I watched Citizen Kane for the first time during the pandemic. It was a masterpiece. It is one of those movies that is seen as one of the greatest movies ever made. Orson Welles directed, starred and produced the notorious film based on the life of newspaper man William Randolph Hurst. But how much did Welles contribute to the writing of the film? Welles is listed as a co-writer with alcoholic writer Herman J. Mankiewicz.

In the new biopic Mank, the story is told of the origin of the screenplay of Citizen Kane and follows the life of Mankiewicz, nicknamed Mank. Played by Oscar winner Gary Oldman, Mank rushed to finish writing the screenplay against plenty of opposition of 1930s Hollywood.

Mank was directed by David Fincher and written by his father Jack Fincher. Jack Fincher wrote the script originally in the 1990s but it never saw the light. Jack Fincher died in 2003. There is a distinct feel to the script, very dialogue heavy. The words were exceptional and helped carry the film. There was not a lot of actual plot development but the dialogue really made the film.

Another key to the special look of the film is that is was filmed in black and white. That gave the film a feel much like Citizen Kane itself and gorgeous to watch.

Gary Oldman led a fantastic cast that included Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tom Pelphry, Charles Dance, Tom Burke, and Arliss Howard. These actors all had to deal with the legendary Hollywood icons that they embodied. But Oldman was the standout here as he continuously blends into his roles. Oldman had to play two ages of Mankiewicz, as the film was told with flashbacks as well as the current day.

There are some slow moments, but the dialogue is always sparkling. The film is beautiful and tells a fascinating story, if not a completely accurate one.

4 stars

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