Dark waters synopsis

Dark waters synopsis DEFAULT

‘Dark Waters’: 7 of the Film’s Stars and Their Real-Life Inspirations

Dark Waters follows Robert Bilott's (Mark Ruffalo) real-life legal battle against DuPont over the release of a toxic chemical into Parkersburg, West Virginia's water supply, affecting 70,000 townspeople and hundreds of livestock.

As a corporate defense attorney on the environmental team at Taft Stettinius & Hollister in Cincinnati, Bilott spent most of his time defending companies like DuPont. But when a farmer from his grandmother's hometown approached Bilott about his dead cattle, Bilott decided to look into it as a favor to his grandmother. "It just felt like the right thing to do," Bilott said in the 2016 New York Times Magazine article that served as a basis for the film. "I felt a connection to those folks."

Wilbur Tennant, played by Bill Camp in the film, showed Bilott videos and pictures he had taken of his cows foaming at the mouth and staggering in ways they hadn't before, with lesions covering their hides. Bilott immediately took on the case. Soon after, he found evidence that DuPont had been dumping toxic chemical waste into the town's water supply, near a creek where Tennant raised his cows, which resulted in a legal fight against the company that lasted more than a decade.

Focus Features' Dark Waters, directed by Todd Haynes, also stars Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham and Bill Pullman.

Read on to find out more about the real-life inspirations behind the characters these actors portray.

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Sours: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/true-story-dark-waters-how-accurate-are-characters-1254811/
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Summaries

  • A corporate defense attorney takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company that exposes a lengthy history of pollution.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • In 1998, Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) is a corporate defense attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio. One day at the office, farmer Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp), an acquaintance of Robert's grandmother, arrives with boxes of videotapes, requesting Robert's assistance. Robert doesn't have time for him, but later drives out to his home town of Parkersburg, West Virginia, to see his grandmother and then Wilbur. Wilbur shows him evidence - from video tapes he's made to remaining cow parts - of how all 190 of his cows have died, showing signs of bizarre and strange disease. He knows it has to do with the huge company DuPont, who has a plant in town, since his brother had been working for them disposing of waste. Robert asks his boss, Tom Terp (Tim Robbins) if he can take the case, assuring him it will be a small side project. Tom reluctantly agrees.

    At a function for attorneys, Robert broaches the subject with DuPont attorney Phil Donnelly (Victor Garber), who politely tells him he's not aware of the specifics but will help out in any way he can. Mark files a small suit so he can gain information through legal discovery of the chemicals that have been dumped on the site. He doesn't find anything useful, then realizes it's possible that whatever poisoned Wilbur's cattle could be something that isn't even regulated by the EPA. At an awards dinner, he presses Phil on the issue, who curses at him and calls him a hick. Robert is able to legally force DuPont to turn over its information, which it does, sending him hundreds of boxes of documents hoping he'll never find anything. He goes through the files one by one, finally finding reference to a chemical called PFOA that he can't find anything about. He continues going through the documents.

    In the middle of the night, Robert's pregnant wife Sarah (Anne Hathaway) finds him tearing the carpet off the floors and going through their pans. He tells her they're being poisoned, and she thinks he's gone mad, until he explains what he's found in the DuPont documents: PFOA-C8 is a man-made chemical used in the production of Teflon. It was created for army tanks, but then used by companies in American homes. DuPont has been running tests of the affect of it for decades, including on animals and on their own employees. Their own studies show that it caused cancer in animals, people, and birth defects in babies of women working on their line - and they never said a thing. They then dumped hundreds of gallons of toxic sludge upriver from Wilbur's farm.

    Wilbur, meanwhile, has been shunned by the entire local community for suing their biggest employer. His house is broken into, and he gets sicker. Robert goes to him with the evidence and tells Wilbur to take the settlement DuPont is offering, but Wilbur refuses, wanting justice and not wanting to stay silent. He tells Robert he and his wife both have cancer. Robert feels guilty, and so he gets Wilbur the settlement, he also writes a brief with all the DuPont evidence and sends it to the EPA and Department of Justice, among others. The EPA fines DuPont $16.5 million.

    DuPont sends a letter to Parkersburg residents telling them that there is PFOA in the water but in safe amounts. Darlene Kiger (Mare Winningham) and her husband get the letter and approach Robert, Darlene remembering her first husband's illness while working in the plant that the employees called "Teflon flu". She also had to have a hysterectomy before she was 40. Robert decides to start with the Kigers to lead a class action lawsuit against DuPont - he wants a settlement and also medical management for the people of Parkersburg, meaning DuPont will have to monitor and take care of their health care. There is push-back at a meeting with the partners at the law firm, who think this will ruin the firm's reputation to go after a company that they would normally be defending. Tom angrily chastises them, arguing that this is the right thing to do.

    Robert takes the class action to court in Charleston, West Virginia in order to secure medical monitoring, with local attorney Harry Dietzler (Bill Pullman), and since PFOA isn't regulated, they argue that DuPont is liable because the amount in the water was higher than the one part per billion their internal documents argued to be safe. In court, DuPont claims they did a new study that says that 150 parts per billion is safe. Robert is aghast, and the locals begin protesting DuPont and the story becomes national news. DuPont agrees to settle for $70 million. Legally, they are only required to do medical monitoring if scientists prove that PFOA causes the ailments, so an independent scientific review is set up to study the affects of PFOA. If they find in favor, DuPont will have to pay up. In order to get data for it, the firm tells the locals they can get their settlement money after donating blood, and nearly 70,000 people donate to the study.

    Years and years go by, with no result from the study. Wilbur passes away, the Kiger family are harassed locally, and Robert faces extreme financial strain, having worked the entire case on the promise of the settlement and continuing to work on it, having to pay scientific experts. He's taken pay cut upon pay cut at the firm, and things are tense with Sarah. When Tom tells him he needs to take another pay cut, Robert collapses, shaking. At the hospitals, the doctors tell Sarah he had an ischemia, or minor stroke, and that he needs to get on new medication and stop dealing with so much stress. Sarah tells Tom to stop making Robert feel like a failure, since he's done something for people who needed help.

    Finally, seven years after the panel was convened, the scientific review contacts Robert and tells him that PFOA causes multiple cancers and other diseases. At dinner with his family, Rob is informed that DuPont is reneging on the entire agreement. He is angry, saying Wilbur told him that there wasn't any justice and he didn't believe him. So Rob decides to take each defendant's case to DuPont, one at a time.

    A post-script text explains that Rob won his first three multi-million dollar settlements against DuPont, and finally DuPont settles the class action for $671 million. PFOA is still in the blood of 99% of life on earth, and thousands of chemicals are still unregulated.

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Dark Waters (2019 film)

2019 American legal thriller film directed by Todd Haynes

Dark Waters is a 2019 American legal thriller film directed by Todd Haynes and written by Mario Correa and Matthew Michael Carnahan. The story dramatizes Robert Bilott's case against the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals. It stars Mark Ruffalo as Bilott, along with Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper, and Bill Pullman.

The film is based on the 2016 New York Times Magazine article "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont's Worst Nightmare" by Nathaniel Rich.[3][4] The story was first told in the 2007 book "Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8" by Callie Lyons, a Mid-Ohio Valley journalist who covered the controversy as it was unfolding.[5] Parts of the story were also reported by Mariah Blake, whose 2015 article "Welcome to Beautiful Parkersburg, West Virginia" was a National Magazine Award finalist,[6] and Sharon Lerner, whose series "Bad Chemistry" ran in The Intercept.[7][8] Bilott also wrote a memoir, Exposure,[9] detailing his 20-year legal battle against DuPont.[10]

Dark Waters had a limited theatrical release on November 22, 2019, by Focus Features, and went wide on December 6, 2019. The film received positive reviews from critics and has grossed over $23 million.

Plot[edit]

Robert Bilott is a corporate defense lawyer from Cincinnati, Ohio working for law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister. Farmer Wilbur Tennant, who knows Robert's grandmother, asks Robert to investigate a number of unexplained animal deaths in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Tennant connects the deaths to the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont, and gives Robert a large case of videotapes.

Robert visits the Tennants' farm, where he learns that 190 cows have died with unusual medical conditions such as bloated organs, blackened teeth, and tumors. DuPont attorney Phil Donnelly tells him he is not aware of the case but will help out in any way he can. Robert files a small suit so he can gain information through legal discovery of the chemicals dumped on the site. When he finds nothing useful in the EPA report, he realizes the chemicals might not be regulated by the EPA.

Robert confronts Phil at an industry event, leading to an angry exchange. DuPont sends Robert hundreds of boxes, hoping to bury the evidence. Robert finds numerous references to PFOA, a chemical with no references in any medical textbook. In the middle of the night, Robert's pregnant wife Sarah finds him tearing the carpet off the floors and going through their pans. He has discovered that PFOA is perfluorooctanoic acid, used to manufacture Teflon and used in American homes for nonstick pans. DuPont has been running tests of the effect of PFOA for decades, finding that it causes cancer and birth defects, but did not make the findings public. They dumped thousands of tons of toxic sludge in a landfill next to Tennant's farm. PFOA and similar compounds are forever chemicals, chemicals that do not leave the blood stream and slowly accumulate.

Tennant has been shunned by his local community for suing their biggest employer. Robert encourages him to accept DuPont's settlement, but Tennant refuses, wanting justice. He tells Robert he and his wife both have cancer. Robert sends the DuPont evidence to the EPA and United States Department of Justice, among others. The EPA fines DuPont $16.5 million.

Robert, however, is not satisfied; he realizes that the residents of Parkersburg will suffer the effects of the PFOA for the rest of their lives. He seeks medical monitoring for all residents of Parkersburg in one large class-action lawsuit. However, DuPont sends a letter notifying residents of the presence of PFOA, thus starting the statute of limitations running, giving any further legal action only a month to begin.

Since PFOA is not regulated, Robert's team argues that the corporation is liable, as the amount in the water was higher than the one part per billion deemed safe by DuPont's internal documents. In court, DuPont claims that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has found that 150 parts per billion is safe. The locals protest and the story becomes national news. DuPont agrees to settle for benefits valued at over $300 million. As DuPont is only required to carry out medical monitoring if scientists prove that PFOA causes the ailments, an independent scientific review is set up. To get data for it, Robert's team tells the locals they can get their settlement money after donating blood. Nearly 70,000 people donate to the study.

Seven years pass with no result from the study. Tennant dies and Robert becomes destitute following several pay cuts, straining his marriage. When Supervising Partner Tom Terp tells him he needs to take another pay cut, Robert collapses, shaking. Doctors tell Sarah he suffered an ischemia, brought on by stress. Sarah tells Tom to stop making Robert feel like a failure, since he is doing something for people who need help.

The scientific panel contacts Robert and tells him that PFOA has been linked to two cancers and four other diseases. At dinner with his family, Robert is informed that DuPont is reneging on the entire agreement. Robert decides to take each defendant's case to DuPont, one at a time. He wins the first three cases with multimillion-dollar settlements against DuPont, and DuPont settles the remaining more than 3,500 disease cases for $671 million.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

On September 21, 2018, it was announced that Todd Haynes would direct the film, then titled Dry Run, from a script by Matthew Michael Carnahan, which would be produced by Participant Media along with Mark Ruffalo.[11] In November 2018, Ruffalo was officially set to star in the film.[12]

In January 2019, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper, and Bill Pullman joined the cast of the film, with Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler producing under their Killer Films banner.[13]Principal photography began on January 14, 2019, in Cincinnati, Ohio.[13][14]

William 'Bucky' Bailey appears as himself in the film. His mother Sue worked on the Teflon line in Dupont's facility.

Other real life individuals affected by the environmental catastrophe in Parkersburg and who appear in the film, include: Darlene and Joe Kiger, Crystal Wheeler and Amy Brode (Wilbur's daughters), Jim Tennant (Wilbur's brother), Sarah and Rob Bilott. Teddy, Charlie and Tony Bilott (Sarah and Rob's sons) also appear in the film.

Release[edit]

The film premiered at the Walter Reade Theater on November 12, 2019.[15] It entered limited release in the United States on November 22, 2019, before going wide on December 6, 2019.[16]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Dark Waters has grossed more than $11.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $11.9 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of over $23.1 million.[2]

In its opening weekend the film made $102,656 from four theaters, a per-venue average of $25,651.[16] It expanded to 94 theaters the following weekend, making $630,000.[17] The film went wide in its third weekend of release, making $4.1 million from 2,012 theaters, and then made $1.9 million in its fourth weekend.[18][19]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a "Fresh" approval rating of 89% based on 225 critic reviews, with an average rating of 7.33/10, and holds an approval rating from audiences of 95%. The website's critics consensus reads, "Dark Waters powerfully relays a real-life tale of infuriating malfeasance, honoring the victims and laying blame squarely at the feet of the perpetrators."[20] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[21] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 3.5 out of 5 stars, with 60% saying they would definitely recommend it to a friend.[18]

Economic response[edit]

The DowDuPont breakup earlier in the year spun off a new DuPont company that continued to lose value throughout the second half of 2019 as investors grew concerned about the potential liabilities related to the old DuPont's fluoropolymer products. When Dark Waters was released on November 12, DuPont's stock price dropped even further by 7.15 points from 72.18 to 65.03. While the portfolio is now a part of Chemours and the companies settled the public health lawsuits referenced in the film, Chemours sued DuPont, alleging that the former parent company saddled it with onerous liabilities when it failed to prepare financial projections in good faith. Chemours estimated that it would need to pay over $200 million to address environmental damages in North Carolina caused by another PFAS manufacturing facility in that region. (The prior settlement in both West Virginia and Ohio cost $671 million, which was split between the two companies.)[22]

DuPont CEO Marc Doyle, executives, and investors argued in internal statements that much of the movie was not based in fact and DuPont was misconstrued to fit the role of the enemy. According to Doyle, limited public statements were made because "in a situation like this, it just doesn’t do you much good to fight it out in the public eye. That would just drive more and more attention to it." Executive chairman Ed Breen wouldn’t comment on whether DuPont would take legal action in response to the movie, but he did tell investors, "Obviously, we have a lot of legal folks [that] have been looking at this."[23] Many of the executives with whom this movie draws fault still work, or recently worked, at DuPont. 3M saw little to no change in its stock price the day of the film's release, but it was already experiencing a "difficult year" from "potential liabilities due to possible litigation over previous production of PFAS."[24] 3M's stock price closed at 256.01 on January 28, 2018, and by December 1, 2019, it had fallen to 168.27.[25]

Accolades[edit]

Many outlets considered the film was snubbed by the 92nd Academy Awards and 77th Golden Globe Awards, not receiving a nomination.[26][27][28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^"Dark Waters". AMC Theatres. Archived from the original on November 3, 2019. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  2. ^ ab"Dark Waters (2019)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Archived from the original on November 25, 2005. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  3. ^Rich, Nathaniel (January 6, 2016). "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont's Worst Nightmare". The New York Times Magazine. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  4. ^Wiseman, Andreas (January 9, 2019). "Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, More Join Mark Ruffalo In Todd Haynes-Participant Drama About DuPont Pollution Scandal". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  5. ^Lyons, Callie (2007). Stain-resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof, and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8. ISBN .
  6. ^Steigrad, Alexandra (January 14, 2016). "American Society of Magazine Editors Unveils Finalists for 2016 National Magazine Awards". WWD. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  7. ^Lerner, Sharon (October 24, 2019). "Bad Chemistry". The Intercept. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  8. ^Lerner, Sharon (August 11, 2015). "The Teflon Toxin: DuPont and the Chemistry of Deception". The Intercept. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  9. ^Bilott, Robert (2019). Exposure: poisoned water, corporate greed, and one lawyer's twenty-year battle against DuPont. New York: Atria Books. ISBN  – via The Internet Archive.
  10. ^"Lawyer who took on DuPont has book coming out". Associated Press News. Associated Press. July 10, 2019. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  11. ^N'Duka, Amanda (September 21, 2018). "'Carol' Helmer Todd Haynes To Direct 'Dry Run' Drama For Participant Media". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  12. ^Wiseman, Andreas (November 9, 2018). "Mark Ruffalo To Star In Participant Media's Todd Haynes Pic About DuPont Pollution Scandal". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  13. ^ abWiseman, Andreas (January 9, 2019). "Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, More Join Mark Ruffalo In Todd Haynes-Participant Drama About DuPont Pollution Scandal". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  14. ^"WKRC" (January 11, 2019). "Shooting for film starring Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway begins in Hamilton Monday". Local12.com. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  15. ^Biese, Alex (November 20, 2019). "'Dark Waters': Mark Ruffalo fights 'the biggest corporate criminality' in whistleblower film". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  16. ^ abBrueggemann, Tom (November 27, 2019). "'Dark Waters' Leads Tepid Arthouse Openers at Crowded Box Office". Indiewire. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  17. ^Brueggemann, Tom (December 1, 2019). "'Harriet,' 'Jojo Rabbit,' and 'Parasite' Reap Holiday Box Office Bounty". IndieWire. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  18. ^ abD'Alessandro, Anthony (December 8, 2019). "'Frozen 2' Leads Dreary December Weekend With $34M+, 'Playmobil' Plunges To $670K – Sunday Update". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  19. ^D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 15, 2019). "'Jumanji: The Next Level' Advancing To $51M+ Opening; 'Richard Jewell' & 'Black Christmas' Earn Lumps Of Coal". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  20. ^"Dark Waters (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  21. ^"Dark Waters Reviews". Metacritic. Metacritic. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  22. ^Chatsko, Maxx (January 9, 2020). "Here's Why DuPont Fell 40.5% in 2019". Fool. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  23. ^Eichmann, Mark (November 1, 2019). "DuPont execs react to villain role in 'Dark Waters' film". whyy.org. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  24. ^Samaha, Lee (December 18, 2019). "Is 3M Stock a Buy for 2020? The industrial giant had a very difficult 2019, but is it set for a turnaround in the coming year?". Fool. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  25. ^Nyitray, Brent (April 1, 2020). "News & Analysis: 3M". Fool. Archived from the original on April 2, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  26. ^"Oscar-bait no more: why serious-issue dramas are floundering". the Guardian. 2020-02-24. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  27. ^Kiesewetter, John. "No Oscar Nominations For Cincinnati's 'Dark Waters'". www.wvxu.org. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  28. ^Tobias, Scott (2020-01-10). "How Did a Todd Haynes Movie Get Ignored This Awards Season?". Vulture. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  29. ^II, Barry Wurst. "HAWAII FILM CRITICS SOCIETY 2019 NOMINEES LIST – Hawaii Film Critics Society". Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  30. ^II, Barry Wurst. "THE HAWAII FILM CRITICS SOCIETY 2019 LIST – Hawaii Film Critics Society". Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  31. ^"2019 Winners | International Press Academy". Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  32. ^"2020 USC Scripter Award winners: 'Little Women' and 'Fleabag'". AwardsWatch. 2020-01-25. Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  33. ^Rosario, Alexandra Del (2020-08-22). "Environmental Media Association Awards Winners List: 'Dark Waters', 'Chernobyl' Among Honorees". Deadline. Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  34. ^Tartaglione, Nancy (2021-02-10). "César Awards: 'Love Affair(s),' 'Adieu Les Cons,' 'Summer Of 85' Lead Nominations; 'Two Of Us' Scores Four Nods". Deadline. Retrieved 2021-08-30.

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Waters_(2019_film)

Film Review: ‘Dark Waters’

What does a rabble-rousing, fight-the-power, ripped-from-the-headlines corporate-conspiracy whistleblower drama look like in the Trump era? It looks like Todd Haynes’ “Dark Waters” — which is to say, it looks very dark indeed. And also potent and gripping and necessary. The movie form I’m talking about is one we all know in our bones; you could say, at this point, that we know it a little too well. It was launched in the late ’60s and ’70s, with films like “Z” and “All the President’s Men” and “Norma Rae,” and it continued through the ’80s, with films like “Silkwood,” and the ’90s, with dramas like “The Insider.” Yet by 2000, the year that Steven Soderbergh released “Erin Brockovich,” a grand irony had set in. The genre, after 30 years, had become so mythic and familiar, so weirdly comfortable in its arcs and outlines (the discovery of political and corporate malfeasance! the brave soul who takes on the system! the airing of corrupt secrets! the restoration of justice!), that almost nothing these movies showed us could truly shock us anymore. Their revelation was gone, and maybe their muckraking impact as well.

Yet “Dark Waters,” in its stunningly real and intricately crafted way, restores some of the original shock and awe to the journalistic genre of The Conspiracies Around Us That Are Truly Happening. I put it that way because what we call “conspiracy theory” has become one of the addictions of our age (it helped Donald Trump turn his followers into a cult), and so the moment you use a word like conspiracy, you’re calling up that whole dubious ethos. But then, there aren’t too many other words for what “Dark Waters” is about: the fact that starting in the early 1950s, Dupont, the most powerful American chemical company, used toxic materials in a number of its products, knowing full well — because of the company’s own research — the disastrous effects those materials might have on anyone who came into contact with them.

“Erin Brockovich,” too, was about toxic chemicals run amok. So what’s new about “Dark Waters”? In part, it’s the intensity of the film’s emotional palette, which hovers between a kind of rah-rah crusader vibe and something far more dread-fueled — the perception that in the United States today, even when you think you’re fighting the power, the power will always have another way to fight you back. That’s not a feeling intrinsic to the Trump era, yet in many ways it defines the witches’ brew of cynicism and despair that led to Trump — the sense, on the part of both the left and the right, that the system is rigged, that it’s bigger than all of us. That’s what “Dark Waters” taps into, and it makes the movie at once cathartic and suck-in-your-breath ominous.

In form, though, this is a classically designed, forcefully executed entry in the lone-rebel-battles-the-corporation genre. The film, written by Mario Correa and Matthew Michael Carnahan, is based on the 2016 New York Times Magazine story “The Lawyer Who Became Dupont’s Worst Nightmare,” and the person it’s about was, in fact, a corporate defense attorney — a man whose chief clients were chemical companies. (In Hollywood terms, he worked for the bad guys.)

His name is Robert Bilott, and he’s played by Mark Ruffalo (who is also one of the film’s producers) as a doughy straight-arrow in a brushed dork haircut whose job consists of doing what he’s told. In 1998, a few months before he becomes a partner at the law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister in Cincinnati, Bilott receives an unannounced visit at his office from Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp), a hardscrabble Appalachian farmer from Parkesburg, West Virginia. He’s toting a box of battered old videotapes on which he recorded what happened to his herd of cows. Robert has to ditch the executive meeting he’s in, pissing off his boss, to deal with this scruffy nuisance standing in the law firm’s lobby. That already suggests what he’s up against: not just a legal case but an invasion — of someone from the “wrong” class, and of inconvenient truths.

But Wilbur has a connection. He’s a friend of Robert’s grandmother — and, in fact, Robert used to visit his farm to ride horses as a kid. So even though Robert is the opposite of an environmental lawyer, out of his bone-deep Midwestern sense of family loyalty he makes a trip out to Wilbur’s farm. There, he sees the graphic evidence Wilbur has gathered that his cows have been poisoned by the water in Dry Run Creek, which Dupont has used as a waste dump. It’s queasy to behold. And as it turns out, it’s the tip of the toxic iceberg.

Robert, aghast at what he’s shown, assumes that it must be a case of “innocent” negligence. He agrees to represent Wilbur, which means that his law firm is now going to sue Dupont, one of the firm’s key clients. Yet Robert and the firm, led by the good-ol’-boy smoothie Tom Terp (Tim Robbins), aren’t out to bite the hand that feeds — and Victor Garber’s canny, now-polite-now-scary performance as Dupont’s chief executive shows you what happens if you do.

Robert thinks he’s doing damage control, helping to manage and contain a case that will not turn out to be a big deal. But he doesn’t know where it’s leading. In rural America, poisoned water for farm animals has a way of being connected to poisoned water for humans. As Robert investigates what happened at the creek, he comes across evidence of a chemical known as PFOA, which he can’t seem to learn anything about. Why the mystery? Boxes and boxes of Dupont documents, going back 50 years, show up in Robert’s offices, and he must pore through all of them to piece the case together. He becomes increasingly obsessed, and we see the toll it takes on him and his wife, Sarah (Anne Hathaway), who’s supportive but only up to a point (they have several children, who Robert is ignoring).

So what makes “Dark Waters” more than just another one of those movies? In certain ways, it is — though like the just-released Adam Driver true-life torture-coverup thriller “The Report,” it’s an exemplary one. What gives “Dark Waters” its singular texture is that Todd Haynes (“Carol,” “Far From Heaven”), who has never made a drama remotely like this, colors in the scenario with an underlying dimension of personalized obsession.

Haynes, the brilliant writer-director of “Safe,” the eerie 1995 drama in which Julianne Moore played a neurasthenic California housewife suffering from vague yet debilitating “environmental illness,” has infused “Dark Waters” with some of that film’s tangible unease. In “Safe,” it was never entirely spelled out whether the illness was real or if it was “all in her head” (or, somehow, both). But “Dark Waters” is a powerfully factual docudrama whose subject is nothing less than the poisoning of American life. The movie isn’t just an attack on corporate greed. It’s an exposé of the environmental corruption that we have all, to a degree, enabled over the years by worshipping products like Teflon, which make our lives easier, without asking enough about why they make our lives easier.

The film is splendidly shot, by Ed Lachman (you feel the chill of the office environments, the autumnal warmth of the nature that’s being despoiled), and the acting is superb. Ruffalo makes Robert a blunted conventional grind of a man who slowly wakes up. Anne Hathaway goes further than we’re used to in showing you what the loved ones of a hero like this have to endure (her performance is a piercing dance of agony and loyalty), and Bill Camp takes the role of Wilbur, the farmer who started it all, and creates something indelible; you won’t soon forget his gruff impotence-of-the-little-guy fury. Movies like “Dark Waters” always deliver you to the same place, to that shining land where David defeats Goliath. But not this one — it’s a feel-good movie and a feel-disturbed movie at the same time. But that’s what’s haunting about it. Todd Haynes has made the first corporate thriller that’s a call to action because you’ll emerge from it feeling anything but safe.

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Sours: https://variety.com/2019/film/reviews/dark-waters-review-mark-ruffalo-todd-haynes-1203402923/

Waters synopsis dark

Dark Waters

Dir. Todd Haynes. US. 2019. 126mins.

The finer details of the decades-long lawsuit between chemical giant DuPont and the people of Parkersburg, West Virginia – who were knowingly poisoned for decades – may have retreated to recent memory, but the consequences of the case will live on forever. Dark Waters, a sober drama about a single man who doggedly exposed unconscionable corruption and negligence, certainly follows in the thematic footsteps of All The Presidents Men, Silkwood or The Insider (all worthy Oscar winners). But Todd Haynes’ engrossing film also wants audiences to understand that, in this situation, they must be the watchdogs; that lawyer Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) is every righteous person who takes aim at giants to great personal cost. When society eats away at the planet, say Haynes and Ruffalo, only we can stop the rot. That particular message lands Dark Waters in the middle of the current zeitgeist, where desperation over the planet’s heedless destruction is rife.

This quietly galvanising film harks back to the powerful social issue dramas of the 1970s

With nods to everything from the aforementioned All The President’s Men – two scenes in an empty car-park lot serve to remind us that nothing really changes – to The Parallax View, Dark Waters should play strongly to upmarket, socially-conscious audiences who will also give it a long life on streaming services. A consistently tight legal drama which brings to mind the very best of its kind, the film also fields notable support from Tim Robbins, Bill Pullman and Anne Hathaway, working from a layered screenplay which delivers a story to believe in and people to care – and fear – for.

Haynes’ signature visual flourishes may be notably absent in this classic film, a showcase for Ruffalo’s low-key burn as an actor (he also co-produces). Yet with very few bells and whistles – even significant plot breakthroughs are dealt with a breath-holding restraint – Dark Waters is a palpably well-made feature. In fact, the subtle brilliance of its mise-en-scene, from 1980s Ohio boardrooms and rubber-chicken dinners to all-black wait staff and the casual discrimination against women, beds the story in the awful truth.

Bilott’s story is so classical, he’d be an archetype if this wasn’t all carefully fact-based. In 1998, he’s a recently-minted partner at the Taft Stettinius & Hollister law firm (specialty: Big Chem) in Cincinnati, Ohio, and first comes across the case which will dominate the next 18 years of his life when his Parkersburg grandmother sends a neighbouring farmer to his office. (Production design, by Hannah Beacher, effectively recreates the upmarket yet decidedly dingy colours of 1980s corporate life, sealing Bilott and his partners in a brown business box).

Bilott, with a glamorous, ambitious wife (Hathaway), and a new baby, goes back to his family’s roots – which mark him out as a “hick” – to investigate, and sees things on the farm he cannot forget. (An opening sequence, set in 1975, has already set a Silkwood chill in the air.) Reluctantly supported by his boss, Tom Terp (Robbins), Bilott sets out with a small challenge to DuPont; but even that, in the snug, clubby, self-regulating world of petrochemicals in the 1980s, is perceived badly as Bilott eventually uses his inside knowledge at Taft to pursue the corporation. (Corporate motto: “Better Living Through Chemicals”). Even the residents of Parkersburg, riddled with cancers and deformities, will turn against him in a town where the company is by far the largest employer.

As the case proceeds, Haynes shows effortlessly and incrementally why his ability with nuanced storytelling (Far From Heaven, Carol, Wonderstruck) has won him such acclaim. Neither has he lost his ability to tell a woman’s story, even when the film is ostensibly about a man. Anne Hathaway’s well-drawn, conflicted wife may travel a predictable path, but Haynes also illustrates the status of women by their utter omission and neglect– whether that be a pregnant lawyer aiming for promotion who is constantly missing from the boardroom, or a woman whose hysterectomy was necessitated by her prolonged exposure to Teflon during its manufacture. Black waiters quietly serve, yet the main partner at Taft who opposes Bilott’s burgeoning case is also a minority hire.

It won’t escape viewers’ attention that this quietly galvanising film – in subject, tone, and treatment – harks back to the powerful social issue dramas of the 1970s, another time when the world felt besieged by corruption and abuse of power. We may have come full circle. One thing’s for certain: this is the most resounding defence of the legal industry since Atticus Finch, and that’s before a much-missed Bill Pullman comes on to showboat his way around a West Virginia courtroom in a way that almost begs a ripple of applause from the gallery.

Production companies: Participant, Willi Hill, Killer Content

International distribution: Focus Features

Producers: Mark Ruffalo, Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler

Screenplay: Mario Correa and Matthew Michael Carnahan, from Nathaniel Rich’s 2016 The New York Times Magazine article  

Production design: Hannah Beachler

Cinematography: Edward Lachman

Editing: Affonso Goncalves

Music: Marcelo Zarvos

Main cast: Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Pullman, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper, Louisa Krause

Sours: https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/dark-waters-review/5144736.article
Dark Waters - Movie Review

DARK WATERS

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NOTE: This spoiler was submitted byAlex

In 1998, Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) is a corporate defense attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio. One day at the office, farmer Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp), an acquaintance of Robert’s grandmother, arrives with boxes of videotapes, requesting Robert’s assistance. Robert doesn’t have time for him, but later drives out to his home town of Parkersburg, West Virginia, to see his grandmother and then Wilbur. Wilbur shows him evidence – from video tapes he’s made to remaining cow parts – of how all 190 of his cows have died, showing signs of bizarre and strange disease. He knows it has to do with the huge company DuPont, who has a plant in town, since his brother had been working for them disposing of waste. Robert asks his boss, Tom Terp (Tim Robbins) if he can take the case, assuring him it will be a small side project. Tom reluctantly agrees.

At a function for attorneys, Robert broaches the subject with DuPont attorney Phil Donnelly (Victor Garber), who politely tells him he’s not aware of the specifics but will help out in any way he can. Mark files a small suit so he can gain information through legal discovery of the chemicals that have been dumped on the site. He doesn’t find anything useful, then realizes it’s possible that whatever poisoned Wilbur’s cattle could be something that isn’t even regulated by the EPA. At an awards dinner, he presses Phil on the issue, who curses at him and calls him a hick. Robert is able to legally force DuPont to turn over its information, which it does, sending him hundreds of boxes of documents hoping he’ll never find anything. He goes through the files one by one, finally finding reference to a chemical called PFOA that he can’t find anything about. He continues going through the documents.

In the middle of the night, Robert’s pregnant wife Sarah (Anne Hathaway) finds him tearing the carpet off the floors and going through their pans. He tells her they’re being poisoned, and she thinks he’s gone mad, until he explains what he’s found in the DuPont documents: PFOA-C8 is a man-made chemical also known as Teflon. It was created for army tanks, but then used by companies in American homes. DuPont has been running tests of the affect of it for decades, including on animals and on their own employees. Their own studies show that it caused cancer in animals, people, and birth defects in babies of women working on their line – and they never said a thing. They then dumped hundreds of gallons of toxic sludge upriver from Wilbur’s farm.

Wilbur, meanwhile, has been shunned by the entire local community for suing their biggest employer. His house is broken into, and he gets sicker. Robert goes to him with the evidence and tells Wilbur to take the settlement DuPont is offering, but Wilbur refuses, wanting justice and not wanting to stay silent. He tells Robert he and his wife both have cancer. Robert feels guilty, and so he gets Wilbur the settlement, he also writes a brief with all the DuPont evidence and sends it to the EPA and Department of Justice, among others. The EPA fines DuPont 16.5 million.

DuPont sends a letter to Parkersburg residents telling them that there is PFOA in the water but in safe amounts. Darlene Kiger (Mare Winningham) and her husband get the letter and approach Robert, Darlene remembering her first husband’s illness while working in the plant that the employees called “Teflon flu”. She also had to have a hysterectomy before she was 40. Robert decides to start with the Kigers to lead a class action lawsuit against DuPont – he wants a settlement and also medical management for the people of Parkersburg, meaning DuPont will have to monitor and take care of their healthcare. There is pushback at a meeting with the partners at the law firm, who think this will ruin the firm’s reputation to go after a company that they would normally be defending. Tom angrily chastises them, arguing that this is the right thing to do.

Robert takes the class action to court in West Virginia in order to secure medical monitoring, with local attorney Harry Dietzler (Bill Pullman), and since PFOA isn’t regulated, they argue that DuPont is liable because the amount in the water was higher than the one part per billion their internal documents argued to be safe. In court, DuPont claims they did a new study that says that 150 parts per billion is safe. Robert is aghast, and the locals begin protesting DuPont and the story becomes national news. DuPont agrees to settle for 70 million. Legally, they are only required to do medical monitoring if scientists prove that PFOA causes the ailments, so an independent scientific review is set up to study the affects of PFOA. If they find in favor, DuPont will have to pay up. In order to get data for it, the firm tells the locals they can get their settlement money after donating blood, and nearly 70,000 people donate to the study.

Years and years go by, with no result from the study. Wilbur passes away, the Kiger family are harassed locally, and Robert faces extreme financial strain, having worked the entire case on the promise of the settlement and continuing to work on it, having to pay scientific experts. He’s taken pay cut upon pay cut at the firm, and things are tense with Sarah. When Tom tells him he needs to take another pay cut, Robert collapses, shaking. At the hospitals, the doctors tell Sarah he had an ischemia, or minor stroke, and that he needs to get on new medication and stop dealing with so much stress. Sarah tells Tom to stop making Robert feel like a failure, since he’s done something for people who needed help.

Finally, seven years after the panel was convened , the scientific review contacts Robert and tells him that PFOA causes multiple cancers and other diseases. At dinner with his family, Rob is informed that DuPont is reneging on the entire agreement. He is angry, saying Wilbur told him that there wasn’t any justice and he didn’t believe him. So Rob decides to take each defendant’s case to DuPont, one at a time. Post-script explains that Rob won his first three multi-million dollar settlements against DuPont, and finally DuPont settles the class action for 671 million dollars. PFOA is still in the blood of ninety-nine percent of life on earth, and thousands of chemicals are still unregulated.

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Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) is a corporate attorney approached by a small farmer, Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp), to take the case of taking on megacorporation DuPont when all of his cows on his form die of brutal illness - the plant is down is near his farm, and he suspects them of polluting the nearby area. Robert eventually discovers that DuPont has been dumping a toxic unregulated chemical, PFOA (teflon), out into the world, and has been testing the chemical for decades and knew it was dangerous. Robert fights them in court for nearly 15 years as they try to evade guilt, and finally DuPont settles for 671 million dollars in a class action.

Sours: https://themoviespoiler.com/movies/dark-waters/

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