Inspired by a shocking true story, a tenacious attorney (Mark Ruffalo) uncovers a dark secret that connects a growing number of unexplained deaths to one of the world's largest corporations. In the process, he risks everything - his career, his livelihood, and his family - to expose the truth.
Dark Waters treads in familiar territory where the little man (or woman) takes on a big, bad, impersonal organisation in the face of overwhelming odds. Mark Ruffalo stars as Robert Bilott, a besuited corporate lawyer from Ohio who has built a prosperous career in the 1990s representing big, powerful companies. His life is changed forever when he is approached by an irate cattle farmer, Wilbur Tennant (played with intensity and fervor by Bill Camp) who claims that his cows are being poisoned by the nearby chemical plant firm, DuPont. Even though it represents a conflict of interest for Bilott's firm, in the interest of corporate transparency, he is permitted by his boss (Tim Robbins) to investigate, on the understanding that he doesn't dig too deep or find anything defamatory. It doesn't take long before Bilott finds that there is indeed something more sinister affecting Wilbur's farm.
The film is chronological and smoothly moves us forward in time; we see Rob's family expand, the characters age and others pass away. We get to see first hand the brutal personal toll this investigation has on Rob, his wife Sarah (excellently portrayed by Anne Hathaway) and Tennant. This structure also demonstrates just how long corporate wrongdoing can linger on before it's noticed and how much longer it takes to then hold that company accountable for its crimes. Director Todd Haynes cleverly digs underneath the usual conventions to cinematically express the toxicity at the core of America's justice system with every frame tinted a sickly green or jaundiced yellow. I would also suggest that this is Ruffalo's best performance to date with his character having a permanent grimace, a stress-induced tremor, and bad posture.
I thoroughly enjoyed this gritty film and became invested in the characters so was pleased with the outcome. I highly recommend it!
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