I’m going to try and limit this review to three paragraphs as there isn’t a whole lot to say about DARK WATERS (not to be confused with Dark Water, a very shitty 2005 horror film that starred Jennifer Connolly). That’s not necessarily a bad thing though as the movie itself is horrifyingly good and any other year where the competition wouldn’t be so stacked this would have easily nabbed a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination. The movie is based on a 2016 article entitled “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare.” Wikipedia.com has a great log line for it, to which I will borrow because it is the only way to talk about it without getting into the fun of unraveling these real life shockers: “An attorney (played by Mark Ruffalo) links a number of unexplained deaths to one of the world’s largest corporations, DuPont. In the process, he risks everything – his future, his family, and his own life – to expose the truth.” And the truth might make you sick, quite literally. When the movie was done I had a bad taste in my mouth and my stomach was very upset. This movie is not for the faint of heart, any extreme germ-phobic people out there, or anyone who gets sick very easily. As I said though, that doesn’t make the movie bad.
In fact the movie is quite engaging, and that is in thanks to a very tight screenplay that the producers of Spotlight decided to make into a movie, and even had one of Spotlight’s stars Mark Ruffalo, to produce and star in it as well. The movie is a bit mis-marketed as a somewhat paranoia thriller even though the movie only really has a 3 minute scene of Mark Ruffalo thinking that people are out to get him from the truth being exposed. That truth? I won’t reveal it on here, but I’ll give you a hint, you might be looking at kitchen appliances a little bit different after the movie and doing some major chemical research. It’s not only shocking with what goes down but how long, as the movie takes place from 1998 and ends around 2015, revealing that this kind and good natured lawyer is still fighting the good fight today. Watching this movie will make you hate corporations and greedy human beings more, that much I can tell you. Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins also star in the film as Ruffalo’s wife and boss respectively, and while they are good, they aren’t really given all that much to do besides a speech or two about family, honor, and fighting the big guns. Ruffalo is good as well, but nothing great or any quirky like his fantastic performance in Spotlight. The scene stealer goes to Bill Camp, who you probably don’t know but he plays a bunch of supporting roles in a bunch of movies you seen. Here he plays a farmer that brings to light all these problems on his farm, and with a heavy accent, breaks your damn heart.
So yeah, if you like legal thrillers/dramas, Dark Waters is a must see. It is extremely engaging in its two hour run time, and the screenplay manages to make the audience make sense of all of what this DuPont corporation did and the compounds and consequences of these chemicals they talk about without spoon feeding it to everyone. This movie would make a great double feature with any of your favorite legal thrillers/dramas out there, but I would say this could be looked at as a spiritual successor to the great Spotlight (one of my favorite films the year it came out, it also won Best Picture that year) itself. But be forewarned again, you will be shocked to your core of what was gotten away with for so long, and while I know this is a “based on a true story/article type thing” where the based on part should probably have a bunch of asterisks after it, I have a feeling there is a bunch of truth to what happened, and even a shred of it is enough to make you sick to your stomach. I hope every single individual that went along with the charade and causing or hiding the truth is either burning hell, jail, or out of their own fucking mind with guilt. Please don’t read anything about it before you go into it, the impact of it will be that much harder for you. By the end credits you’ll feel like you’ve been doused with a bunch of this dirty water, and will be itching to get home to clean yourself off.