"Dark Waters" (2019 release; 126 min.) brings the story of Cincinnati lawyer Rob Bilott's long legal battle against DuPont. As the movie opens, it is "1975 Parkersburg, West Virginia" as we see several teenagers (one of them a young Bilott) go swimming in a lake that we later see being sprayed with chemicals. We then go to "1998 Cincinnati, Ohio", and Rob has just made partner at Taft, one of the large law firms in Cincinnati. Then a stranger shows up who is from Parkersburg and knows Rob's grandmother. The stranger, Wilbur Tennant, claims that chemicals have ruined his farm, he has the VHS tapes to prove it, and can Rob please represent him.... At this point we're 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all turns out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from Todd Haynes, whose prior movie, the excellent "Carol" was coincidentally also filmed here in Cincinnati (where I live). But that is where the comparisons stop. Here, Haynes brings to the big screen the long legal battle that Bilott fought against chemical giant DuPont. The film starts a bit tentative in my opinion, but after the first half hour, the tension doesn't let up as DuPont is fighting with all of its might against Bilott. This movie is a labor of love for Mark Ruffalo, who stars and also co-produces. I've seen a lot of the films that Ruffalo has made in his career, and I don't know that he's ever been better, playing the almost mousy yet determined lawyer. Anne Hathaway seems underused as the supportive spouse but as the movie goes deeper, her role expands. The movie was filmed in early 2019 in and around Cincinnati, and the downtown area is featured extensively, including Fountain Square, the Queen City Club, the Hall of Mirrors at the Netherland Plaza, etc.
The movie had a red carpet premiere here in Cincinnati in mid-November, a week before it got a limited theater release. This weekend it got a wide release, and the Friday early evening screening where I saw it at my art-house theater here in Cincinnati was attended okay (about 20 people). This movie will surely create strong word of mouth, and if it manages to pick up some award nominations (as it is expected), this could have a decent run in the theaters. If you are interested in a tense legal drama where Mark Ruffalo shines, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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