Mank review round-up: David Fincher's 'love letter to Hollywood' is 'lusciously evocative and immersive'

David Fincher's Mank has been receiving praise across the board, particularly on the technical front, with critics calling it 'dazzling craftsmanship'

FP Staff November 07, 2020 13:36:32 IST
Mank review round-up: David Fincher's 'love letter to Hollywood' is 'lusciously evocative and immersive'

The social media embargo lifted for David Fincher's Mank was lifted on Thursday night, allowing critics to give their first impressions of the film. The film has been receiving praise across the board, particularly on the technical front, with critics calling the production, camerawork, sound & score as its strongest elements.

In Mank, Fincher heads back to the 1930s and 'reevaluates Hollywood' through the eyes of screenwriter Herman J Mankiewicz — a drama critic for The New York Times and The New Yorker who is co-credited for writing Citizen Kane with Orson Welles. Shot in inky, evocative black and white, the film follows its titular figure (played by Gary Oldman) as he's trying to finish penning the iconic script, and recalls not only his clashes with Welles over the material but the general ups and downs of 1930s Hollywood.

The movie also features Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Arliss Howard, Tom Pelphrey, Sam Troughton, Ferdinand Kingsley, Tuppence Middleton, Tom Burke and Charles Dance.

Check out some of the first reviews here

Eric Kohn of IndieWire has called Mank 'greatest reenactment of Hollywood'. He writes, "Fincher works overtime to craft a rich, layered character study on a vast scale, resulting in his best movie since The Social Network and one of his most audacious filmmaking experiments since Benjamin Button. From the delicate shadows to the breathtaking scope of its production design, Mank conjures a fully immersive world, and possibly the greatest reenactment of Hollywood’s Golden Age ever. Its insight into the studio’s role in developing anti-Sinclair propaganda isn’t too shabby either. Mank unites those ingredients as it finds the writer pressing for unionization and a more liberal Hollywood that wouldn’t emerge for decades."

 in Empire says, "Fincher’s first film since 2014’s Gone Girl isn’t a gooey-eyed Valentine to the dream factory. Instead, it’s a clear-eyed, warts ’n’ all love letter to Hollywood, alive to both the glamour and messy realities of the film industry and the act of creation itself — all wrapped in some of the most gorgeous filmmaking craft imaginable. Shot in stunning black-and-white, Mank delivers Hollywood in a multitude of greys. Built on a towering performance by Gary Oldman, it’s smart, sophisticated, by turns thrilling and difficult, and amongst Fincher’s best."

David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter took a moment to appreciate the crew of the film that made it a 'cinephile's dream'. He writes, "Mank is a work of dazzling craftsmanship. Production designer Donald Graham Burt and costumer Trish Summerville take their cues from Orson Welles, conjuring both the glamour and grit of the 1930s and early '40s California with consummate flair. The tonally shape-shifting score by composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross moves supply between Bernard Herrmann influences and the big band jazz of the era. Editor Kirk Baxter's artful scene transitions and theatrical fades are swoon-worthy, with period monaural sound design completing the deluxe retro package. But it's the director's reteaming with Mindhunter DP Erik Messerschmidt that dominates this film."

Owen Gleiberman of Variety praised the performance of Amanda Seyfried. He said, "The performances are sharp, witty, and lived-in, and several of the actors have an indelible resonance — notably Amanda Seyfried, who plays Marion, and Charles Dance, who endows Hearst with hauntingly sinister humanity. In Mank, even the darkness has a high sheen carries a luscious gossipy voyeuristic intrigue. The film is a lusciously evocative, verbally sharp-angled movie that’s never less than engrossing."

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