Mank: back in the Hollywood past

By paying tribute to the author of Citizen Kane, David Fincher delivers a beautiful, nostalgic and disenchanted film.

The writings remain; the writers pass. David Fincher repairs this injustice. It pays homage to Herman J. Mankiewicz who was the author of Citizen Kane. In 1940, Orson Welles had locked the writer on a remote ranch, far from all temptation. Mank’s leg was in a cast, which made the isolation easier. Two months to hand in the script, six weeks of work and abstinence. This is how we produce masterpieces.

Gary Oldman is lying in bed most of the time. He dictates his dialogues to a secretary, telephones his wife whom everyone calls only “poor Sara”, tries not to touch the whiskey. Fincher chooses black and white and a flashback construction that is reminiscent of Welles’ beginnings behind the camera. References are part of the pleasure. Ben Hecht is seen in an office. Louis B. Mayer spouts cigar in mouth in the corridors of the MGM. Joseph Mankiewicz, future director of Cleopatra, visits his mounted brother

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