Movie #50 2021: Dark Waters (2019)

I’m not entirely sure how this ended up on my watch list, quite frankly. Do I regret it being on there? Let’s see…

Dark Waters is the 2019 effort from Carol director, Todd Haynes. Narratively, this could not be more different to his most famous work however. Based on the true story of a former corporate lawyer in the States, his world is flipped upside-down when a client comes to him claiming that his farm animals are being poisoned by a large corporation. What he uncovers is truly shocking, and he begins to fight the bigwigs in court in an attempt to stop the whole town in which he’s now in being poisoned.

Not to disrespect my entire community, but I preferred this to Carol. What?! I love a lesbian love story as much as the next gay, but Dark Waters has overarching themes of corporate evil and corruption, for crying out loud! I know what I’d rather watch. And truth be told, this true story is absolutely wild.

Bolstered by great performances, the way Todd Haynes has framed this movie is just incredible. The landscapes and use of negative space in certain shots are genuinely beautiful, and a really interesting choice since the story is so sinister and dark. And the blue/grey filter that he uses? Sets the tone immediately. A truly brilliant effort from Haynes, with the cinematography being the beginning and the end of any similarities it may or may not have with Carol.

I don’t know, there’s just something infinitely more interesting about this allegory than the one in Haynes’ more celebrated work. Maybe it’s the nerd in me, but uncovering a C8 chemical disposal scheme is much grittier and interesting than a movie where two people simply fall in love. No shade – Carol is a very good movie. I just found this more exciting and enjoyable as a whole. 

Back to the aforementioned great performances, Mark Ruffalo gives his most mature performance yet here. Although Ruffalo is the headliner, Bill Camp impresses the most, playing Wilbur with such honest anguish and pain. The only anomaly? Anne Hathaway. I hate to say it, but I didn’t believe a word she said in this movie. The subplot involving her was the only thing I was disinterested in, sadly, and the only thing that stopped me from awarding it a full five Qs.

Yes, there’s a lot of dialogue, so much of it is just men talking, and it’s really quite long. And yet the run time absolutely flew by. Just a really well written, shocking exposé that made a much bigger impression on me than Carol did. Sorry to keep comparing the two, but that’s inevitable.

Well done, Mr. Haynes. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Dark Waters is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Rating: ½

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