When I see a movie like this, based on true events and with a great crew, I usually jump on it immediately. Except if I think it will be difficult to watch and this one is a doozy. Then I put off watching it as long as I can, fully knowing that I will be moved to the core when it’s finished. Some things in life you have to do, no matter how hard they seem and I know it’s a bit funny that we’re talking about a movie and not something else. However, if you have a rational system of values and are operating under five rules of science (something that Neil deGrasse Tyson mentioned in Cosmos), you absorb information that impacts you as a person. You don’t close your eyes and cover your ears when faced with difficult truths. And Dark Waters has a lot of those difficult truths that reveal just how fucked up and wicked we are as a species. And if you’re wondering if things are better now, no, they are not.
After this pretty heavy intro, let’s talk about what Dark Waters. It follows one man’s quest for justice in a crooked world of mega-corporations and evil lawyer companies. It follows the failure of human society at every possible level. It is based on the 2016 New York Times Magazine article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare” by Nathaniel Rich and broadens its scope by going back and forth in time, detailing the level of incompetence, corruption and just pure, unadulterated desire for profits. All hail capitalism! Events depicted in this movie are related to one company, DuPont, but throughout the US there have been numerous cases of poisoned water supplies that have caused numerous deaths and illnesses. Just check out Flint water crisis and Newark water crisis. And these are just the reported and discovered cases.
Meet Robert Bilott, a corporate defense lawyer working for some of the biggest corporations in the world. His job is to get them out of the legal troubles and mitigate the effects of them. However, when a farmer Wilbur Tennant, a friend of Robert’s grandmother, asks him to take a closer look at a number of deaths that have happened in a town where he lived as a kid, Robert will discover that one of his clients, DuPont might be responsible for them. And so it begins…
Starring Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Anne Hathaway and Mr. President Bill fucking Pullman, Dark Waters cast is just perfect. Mark, of course, stole the show as Robert Bilott, but I also would like to single out Robbins and his subdued but incredibly strong performance. With a budget of just $20 million, the movie looks and feels great, just like all the other movies where a single person fights for justice. This is a slow-burn thriller/drama that follows both the factual evidence and the plight of all the people affected by this case. And that number is not small. It doubles as a legal drama and a simple human story, so if you like both those genres, you’re in luck. Sort of. It successfully avoided all the standard traps that these movies usually fall in, making us believe that now everything is fine and dandy. I cannot imagine the pressures that Billot went through, it’s truly awe-inspiring to see someone as rational and moral as this man in a world where that’s supposed to be the norm. Norm my ass, 85% of the population do not care about themselves and let alone their neighbors or society in general.
Very honest and down-to-earth, it will send shivers down your spine, especially when you find out that you are actually one of the people affected by these events. Yes, that is correct, this scandal is so fucking big that almost the entire population of the Earth is affected by it. And you will never look at some things, some household items the same way. I purposefully left out what those are in an effort to push you to check out this phenomenal movie. And if you want to delve even deeper, there’s a nice documentary about it called The Devil We Know . I will also leave the links for this entire case and related investigations below, so check them out for a more factual report on this.
Director: Todd Haynes
Writers: Mario Correa, Matthew Michael Carnahan
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Pullman, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham