Whether this is Oscar bait that fell flat or not, nothing can take away from the importance of the subject material of Dark Waters; do you think this was an issue that only affected a small, rural demographic in West Virginia? Think again.
Rob Bilott is a corporate defense attorney whose just been promoted within his firm and defends chemical companies such as DuPont. But when a farmer from Parkersburg, WV, demonstrates to Bilott there’s something seriously wrong with the water there, having killed 190 of his cows, Bilott takes on the same company he would normally defend.
I saw the trailer for this film so many times, I was tired of it, and had little interest in seeing it. However, I’m glad I did. Dark Waters is one of those films which will open eyes, taking what appears to be a local issue on the surface and exposing the true, national scope of it. This is a movie that needs to be seen, because it provides scary information that is relevant to almost all of us, and because it is as current as any other film out there – Dark Waters is only a conversation starter to what could be uncovered in the future. And the film is interesting enough, and directed well enough, to make it a palatable source of information for mainstream audiences; Dark Waters is as interesting as an environmental law movie can get. Director Todd Haynes includes some unnecessary scenes to build suspense, such as the cliché parking garage scene where we see a mysterious figure, but otherwise this film remains focused and steadily paced.
Mark Ruffalo is no stranger to these persistent, muckraker roles; he was an investigator in Zodiac, and a journalist in Spotlight, and as attorney Rob Bilott, he doesn’t skip a beat. In the second half of the film, Anne Hathaway lends her skill as the wife who fights for her husband, but is only supportive to an extent, and reminded me of Amy Adams in Vice or Claire Foy in First Man last year.
Based on the New York Times article, “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” Dark Waters is yet another significant true story told on the big screen. It may not get the same awards spotlight that Spotlight did (see what I did there), but this film needs to be seen because if it isn’t, you’re letting the greedy side of corporatism win. 8.5/10 P.S. For those wondering, yes, Country Roads is played, as obligatory of any film featuring West Virginia.