David Fincher returns to cinemas with first images from Mank

His first feature in six years chronicles the tensions between Orson Welles and Herman J Mankiewicz on Citizen Kane.


Charles Bramesco


At last, our long national nightmare of not having any new David Fincher movies is over. The esteemed filmmaker has spent six years traversing the wilds of online TV, helming House of Cards and then Mindhunter for his adoptive overlords at Netflix, but their benevolence will soon end this interminable Fincher drought at the cinema.

Today brings our first glimpse at his grand return, Mank, a drama chronicling the tensions between Orson Welles and Herman J Mankiewicz during the production of Citizen Kane. And even in razor-sharp digital photography, Old Hollywood has never looked quite so lustrous.

We see Gary Oldman as Mankiewicz, the man who authored the screenplay that would become Welles’ masterpiece. Here, he strides through a meticulously recreated set from an earlier era of film production.

Amanda Seyfried has an air of the classical about her looks – big eyes, flaxen hair – making her a perfect fit for Marion Davies, actress and the longtime mistress of Randolph Hearst (the famed inspiration for Charlie Kane). Many speculated that the second wife character from the film was based on her, a charge that Welles denied for years afterward.

While the choice to shoot this milieu, so closely identified with the grain of celluloid, in clean high-definition digital could ruffle some feathers. But the still below, of magic-hour sun pouring in over a dusty location shoot, suggests that longtime advocate of digital textures Fincher knows what he’s doing.

Below, we see Arliss Howard as Louis B Mayer, one of the most influential studio bosses of the era. He’s seen here gesticulating emphatically, probably talking about budgets or box-office numbers or whether or not some kid has it.

Lily Collins portrays Rita Alexander, the nurse who accompanied Mankiewicz as he drew up the script while drying out at the North Verde Ranch. Her support and eventual recollections of the time figured prominently into the debate over the script’s creative parentage that broke out between Welles and Mankiewicz.

And there we have it, the towering screenplay under its original title of American. (How’s that for chutzpah?) It’s reminiscent of The Social Network of Fight Club, Fincher’s other films about pairs of men that happen onto something of great value and then must battle for control over it.

A release date still has yet to be set, though Netflix promises “Fall 2020” as a deadline. But when it does, cinephiles far and wide will let you know.

Published 5 Sep 2020

Tags: Amanda Seyfried Charles Dance David Fincher Gary Oldman Lily Collins Tom Burke Tuppence Middleton

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