In terms of storytelling, Dark Waters' most close associate that I've seen is The Big Short. Tonally, these two are polar opposites, but they both illustrate their convoluted and complicated stories of corporate corruption well. Well enough for any non-chemist, non-lawyer, non-doctor to understand the injustice that corporate overlords have exacted upon the public.
The film is constantly tearing down the spirit of Mark Ruffalo, followed by brief, hopeful moments that Dupont will be held accountable for poisoning tens of thousands of people. These hopeful and demoralizing notes begin small. The idea that the EPA will help Wilbur Tenant, the farmer who had his cattle herd die from poisoned drinking water, is followed by Ruffalo realizing that report was written in part by Dupont scientists who will, of course, be corrupt. And that demoralizing note is followed by bestowing the hope that Wilbur Tenant will finally get his long sought chance for a $ settlement, and that's followed by the soul crushing scene of his entire family drinking water out of the tap, still poisoning themselves with no other means to change their fate.
That was the scene that made me cry with rage. That nothing could be done to escape their death. What could they do without water? They're thirsty, and stressed, and their kids just want to come home from school and live normal lives. All I could do was cry tears of rage. Wilbur was not being served justice.
The notes continue swooping from high to low. Ruffalo is served mountains of paperwork during the lawsuit against Dupont. Like, a laughable amount that no one could ever finish reviewing. But he sets to work anyway and finds the smoking gun: Dupont has known about the poison for decades. The film makes the audience believe we have Dupont dead to rights, but they wiggle out of it with legal maneuvering. When it has been years after the public blood testing, and no answers are given as to whether Dupont is at fault, the public gets angry at Ruffalo. All this pressure builds into him having a mental breakdown/siezure, and we all feared he would quit. Then, after he recovers, the call finally comes from the science panel that he was right. Dupont absolutely poisoned these people and must pay for their health damage. This movie is like an emotionally abusive boyfriend.
Finally, we won, right? No. Dupont rips up the mediation contract (one would think this illegal) and now says anyone who health problems cannot take part in a class action lawsuit, but can do so individually.
And that's when we finally leave on the highest of high notes that makes you curse with joy and unleash primal, guttural screams of victory: Mark Ruffalo starts representing each of those West Virginians individually, wins tens of millions of dollars in the first 3 cases, and DUPONT GIVES UP. THEY PAYOUT THE BETTER PART OF A BILLION DOLLARS. WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO YEAAAH SUCK IT.
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