“We protect us. We do. Nobody else. Not the companies, not the scientist, not the government. Us.”
- Title: Dark Waters
- Director: Todd Haynes
- Release date: 12th November 2020
When we think of a dystopian thriller, none of us ever think of it as something that we will ever experience or live through. Dark skies, disaster, and a fight for survival. However, this is precisely what the people of Parkersburg, West Virginia experienced when the chemical manufacturing company DuPont decided to build a chemical site in their town…
Based on the book ‘The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare’ by Nathaniel Rich, Mark Ruffalo stars in this legal thriller as Robert Bilott, the defence lawyer who took on one of the most sinister legal battles in history and fought for the lives of the citizens in Parkersburg when nobody else would.
In true Todd Haynes style, in Dark Waters we watch Rob Bilott’s legal battle play out over several decades, right up until the early-2010s. Besides being a true story, what makes this dystopian-style thriller so scary is how recently these events occurred. For decades, DuPont was knowingly harming innocent civilians whilst nobody said a word. From when Wilbur Tennant first approached Bilott about his concerns over DuPont, it took roughly twenty years before Bilott’s colleagues, environmental agencies, and finally America began to see the truth.
As well as the choice of director, I think Mark Ruffalo was the perfect pick for the part of Robert Bilott. His experience as a fictional superhero certainly gave him the best background for playing a real-life one. As a matter of fact, the real Robert Bilott and his wife Sarah (played by Anne Hathaway) have their own cameo in the film during the Ohio Chemical Alliance Annual Dinner scene, as well as others affected by the disaster such as William ‘Bucky’ Bailey, Jim Tennant, and Darlene and Joe Kiger. The inclusion of those who lived the story that we watch play out on screen is a touching addition to the film as we witness these people share their story with the world.
In an era of the Hollywood Blockbuster, many of us tend to encapsulate ourselves around watching large production films, filled with technical camera angles and edited scenes that some of us could only dream of being able to create ourselves. As much as I love to get lost watching a blockbuster, sometimes it’s the more plain and simple films that can have the biggest impact. And this is certainly what Dark Waters did for me. Lacking in thrills and spills, it did not fail to deliver in telling this very chilling and very recent story on the big screen, and this is exactly what made it such an intriguing watch.
Remember, sometimes it’s the true stories that make for the most captivating films…