This is a charming film that’s anchored by charming performances.
Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried received Oscar nominations for their work in “Mank,” and deservedly so. Both offer delightful and nuanced portrayals of quick-witted Hollywood veterans who employ snark to keep the nastier bits of show business at arm’s length.
I’ve always been a fan of director David Fincher’s work and I often enjoy the austere aesthetic of his films. In “Mank,” Fincher trades cool colors and smooth surfaces for a rich black-and-white palette that’s a callback to 1930s-1940s Hollywood. “Mank” is a big departure from Fincher’s other productions, yet it’s just as compelling and immersive.
A scene of note: There’s a scene in “Mank” that’s unlike anything I’ve watched before. A large group of people have gathered in a huge room at Willam Randolph Hearst’s mansion. Some sit at a long table while others lounge nearby on various sofas and chairs. It’s a casual setting with lots of repartee. Yet, it’s also a performance–the most dominant people in the room are holding court, firing playful barbs back and forth, while the other attendees watch with rapt attention. The rhythm, writing, and execution of this scene are exceptional.