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Mank Is Much Ado About Nothing


Starring  Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Arliss Howard, Tom Pelphrey, Sam Troughton, Ferdinand Kingsley, Tuppence Middleton, Tom Burke, Joseph Cross, Jamie McShane, Toby Leonard Moore, Monika Gossmann, Charles Dance.

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Directed by David Fincher

Rating: **

Did you know that the  mysterious  ‘Rosebud’  reference  in  Orson Welles’ Citizen  Kane  could be referring to the female genitilia? No? Does  it  matter? Is anyone really interested in  knowing about the behind-the-scenes  goings-on during the  making of  Citizen Kane? Many consider  this 1941  classic to be the  single best  film that Welles  ever made . By  right , a film on  the making of Citizen Kane should have been filled with intrigue romance  lust and greed.

 And it is!  But David Fincher’s film goes so deep into the interiors of the film  Citizen Kane that most  of the running-time  seems to  us from the outside like  trade secrets being shared in code language. The atmosphere  is laden with innuendos and threats as we catch  the screenwriter of this movie-about-the-making-of-a-movie Herman  Mankiewicz, known  simply as  ‘Mank’ henceforth , is nursing  a broken leg.  He has his comely secretary  Rita Alexander(Lily Collins)  for company while his wife Sara(Tuppence Middleton) called ‘Poor Sara’ by the entire  Hollywood fraternity, languishes  for  the lack of attention.

So does the  screenplay of Citizen Kane which Mank is  to write but he just can’t get it right. We could say it is birth-write, but what to do with so  many distractions.

I had a hard time trying to  get to the  core  of the plot and the  best that I could come up with is this. The  entertainment industry cannibalizes  its own people  in the garb of  original art. Hence  the screenplay of Citizen Kane  that  Mank is writing  is said to have sought  inspiration from  Willain Randolph Hearst, played by the wonderful Charles Dance he  tries to bring a bedrock of gravitas to a  film that is hellbent on digging its own grave  by  secretly whispering about  people and  their verbal  preoccupations  as  though we  the audience should be wise enough to  catch the nuances  if we have  any regard  for  Orson Welles and Citizen Kane.The level of reality  pertained to achieve by the director is ambitious that the whole affair becomes an exercize in  a phony self-congratulations. The  film is shot in a chich black-and-white. This  is after all the 1930s . The narrative effortlessly transports us to the  black-and-white era. Once there it seems  unsure  of what to do with the characters and the audience.  Mank is  waste  of time. Better to watch Citizen Kane  for  the  17th time.                                                                           

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