Dark Waters (aka throw your Teflon pots away and all companies are evil)
My favourite Mark Ruffalo is the 13 going on 30 Mark Ruffalo – he’s cute, he’s kind, he’s perfect. He’s the guy we all want without being mature enough to know why we want him …
The other version of Mark Ruffalo that I love (besides the Hulk, OBVIOUSLY), is the one that uses his fame to be involved in movies that tell important stories about the world we live in. Spotlight was an amazing example of this, and his latest work, Dark Waters, is another. Based on a true story and taken from The New York Times magazine article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare”, Dark Waters is the story about how, as a favour to his grandmother, lawyer Rob Billot took on DuPont for environmental mis-management that has poisoned the water supply in West Virginia.
The movie is a slow burn, a dramatic piece that reels you in. We watch Rob’s transformation from corporate lawyer who defends these companies to the one who will take them down, all because he is gifted with both an intricate knowledge of their tactics, and an unrelenting focus and attention to detail. Through the movie we see how the company works to dissuade the suit from going forward, both through the lawyers, but also through pressure from the people in the town, who are afraid of losing their main employer and benefactor – who refuse to believe the company would do them any harm.
Bilott faces every possible obstacle, from being harassed by the company, to opposition in his own firm, to his family life falling apart, to watching his main plaintiffs die of illness, to endless legal wrangling that turned this case into a 20 year long nightmare. The whole thing will make you so very angry, but more so because it’s true.
“…what’s entirely impossible as the credits roll, is to leave without a palpable sense of fury, a real world, off-screen outrage directed not just at a particular issue but at a particular company.”– The Guardian
Also wonderful but totally underused was Anne Hathaway as Rob’s wife. As this review points out, they were nice enough to point out that she was a lawyer too, and how the firm passes over women regularly, but it’s a small point. It was an absolute waste of someone with Hathaway’s talent to play “the wife”, and I was angry for her and her Oscar every time she was on screen.
That being said, I still think this movie is a must see. The story is one that we already know, but it’s so important to repeat. How, if left unchecked, most companies will not do the right thing and protect citizens. How many people, from politicians to scientists to regular citizens, will line up to protect those same companies that are harming or even killing them, as they either refuse to believe the truth or are too afraid to lose their livelihoods if they do otherwise.
The story is not an exciting adventure flic, but an important movie for all of us to see – and not just by those who love Mark Ruffalo. Though that helps.
Image Credit: Amazon