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Dark Waters

Opening Date
02 Jan 2020
PG13 Some Coarse Language
127 mins
English - subtitles to be advised
Biography, Drama, History
Todd Haynes
Anne Hathaway, Mark Ruffalo, William Jackson Harper, Tim Robbins
From Participant (Spotlight, Green Book), critically acclaimed DARK WATERS tells the shocking and heroic story of an attorney (Academy Award®-nominee Mark Ruffalo) who risks his career and family to uncover a dark secret hidden by one of the world’s largest corporations and to bring justice to a community dangerously exposed for decades to deadly chemicals.
Corporate environmental defense attorney Rob Bilott (Ruffalo) has just made partner at his prestigious Cincinnati law firm in large part due to his work defending Big Chem companies. He finds himself conflicted after he’s contacted by two West Virginia farmers who believe that the local DuPont plant is dumping toxic waste in the area landfill that is destroying their fields and killing their cattle. Hoping to learn the truth about just what is happening, Bilott, with help from his supervising partner in the firm, Tom Terp (Academy Award®-winner Tim Robbins), files a complaint that marks the beginning of an epic 15-year fight—one that will not only test his relationship with his wife, Sarah (Academy Award®-winner Anne Hathaway) but also his reputation, his health and his livelihood. 
By Jason Lin  02 Jan 2020
Dark Waters served as a critical reminder on the need for certain core values to be protected and preserved where they should never be sacrificed in the name of corporate bottom lines.
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Adopting a bottom-up perspective towards the actual life event of corporate lawyer Rob Bilott’s litigation against chemical giant DuPont that spanned a couple of decades. Filmmaker Todd Haynes follows Mark Ruffalo who plays Bilott and studies how a corporate legal practitioner who had once defended chemical enterprises turned to represent the very people whose lives had been devastated by DuPont’s alleged contamination of drinking water with a toxic chemical “PFOA” associated with the fabrication of Teflon.
Given that it’s based on a true event, viewers who were familiar with the story would be captivated by Haynes’ pressingly thought-provoking Dark Waters that sought to spark interest and awareness. The film decided to let the audience in and observe Bilott’s inner struggles as he chooses to give up his promising career in a corporate legal firm to pursue a class-action justice on behalf of ordinary citizens.
There were scenes where Bilott (played by the influencing Ruffalo) had close consultation with his managing partner Tom Terp (played by a plucky Tom Robbins) where they discussed the perplexity and potential consequences of litigation against DuPont. This eventually sought to divide these two as the going got tough – it was never an easy fight with a powerful corporate entity.
Bilott spent what felt like an impossible amount of time to comb through almost every single inch of information that was accessible to him before he eventually realised that he had uncovered greater secrets that had an impact beyond his client Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp). This was a pivotal moment in the film where the audience might better relate to Bilott’s motivations based on the findings from his massive research and investigations.
When Bilott faced the individuals, who had pinned everything on him as their only beacon of hope, the immense pressure on him to produce outcomes in the name of justice was palpable. It also aggravated his medical condition where he eventually had a seizure with stroke symptoms.
Bilott’s medical episode frustrated his wife and brought their already strained relationship to a new low. It was never easy for Sarah Bilott played by Anne Hathaway (who had a few but impressionable scenes in the film) to give up her promising career to take care of the family while her husband chose to sacrifice similar for the 70,000 people who lived near DuPont’s chemical plant.
While it could be argued that the film could have been edited to a shorter running time, Dark Waters had a good sense of when to linger and when to move on. After all, the litigation took place for over two decades and could potentially go on further – there were plenty of materials for Haynes to go through.
In a capitalistic society that embraced economic benefits and activities, Dark Waters served as a critical reminder on the need for certain core values to be protected and preserved where they should never be sacrificed in the name of corporate bottom lines. Even with a regulatory and judiciary system in place, it would be essential to ensure that checks and balances must always be in place.
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