Dark Waters

As infuriating and horrifying as the subject matter of Dark Waters is—it’s based on “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” a 2016 New York Times Magazine story about how Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo), a corporate lawyer with a history of representing chemical companies, switched sides to reveal DuPont’s decades of catastrophic malfeasance—it is, in many ways, another paint-by-numbers, based-on-a-true-story legal thriller with the genre-mandated tropes: A delicate but driven score that sounds like the same delicate-but-driven score in every other fight-the-power thriller; a righteous speech (in Dark Waters, Tim Robbins gets the big one, and he takes full-throated advantage); and plenty of invectives like “The system is rigged!” and “They’re a titan of industry! They can do whatever they want!” None of that stuff’s bad—it’s pretty much what any lefty who’s excited to see Dark Waters, including me, is happily signing up for—but there’s a catch that elevates this movie to something better than usual. Portland arthouse director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Carol) oversees things here, capturing Dark Waters’ sickening story in chilly blues and jaundiced yellows while knowing exactly how to get the most from his cast.

by Erik Henriksen
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Trailer

Credits
Director
Todd Haynes
Cast
Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins