Back in January, Joanna wrote about Anne Hathaway joining a new film from director Todd Haynes, and why that was a good move for her. The movie is called Dark Waters and also stars Mark Ruffalo, and it now has a trailer. While Hathaway seems to be playing a classic Supportive Wife of a Great Man, the movie does look really good and will probably launch everyone involved into award season. Hathaway already has an Oscar, so the urgency isn’t really there for her, but Ruffalo is oh-for-three in that department. If Dark Waters pans out, he could run an “it’s his time” campaign, and he is so popular with his peers it might just work, even in a hellishly competitive year. (The actress categories, so far, look a little thin, but the actor races are going to be tight.)
Dark Waters is about the DuPont chemical scandal of the 1990s, and if you watch this and think “dude Erin Brockovich” you’re not too far off. Ruffalo stars as Robert Bilott, the lawyer who ends up representing one of the largest class action lawsuits in US history, and which also spun out multiple landmark rulings (the last of which was rendered in 2016, in case you’re wondering how long it takes to sue major corporations). This is going to be a f-cking infuriating movie to watch, because the DuPont chemical scandal is some classic corporate bullsh-t where a company knowingly poisoned the air and water and then tried to weasel out of it when people wanted their cancer bills paid. It looks like Haynes shot the movie in standard procedural grey, and there are many moments of Ruffalo and Hathaway looking tense and upset. There is also a lot of Hathaway in this trailer, if anyone can do something interesting with a Supportive Wife, it’s Todd Haynes and Anne Hathaway.
I do wonder what the public appetite will be for this, though. This year has been terrible for everyone but Disney, and I will not be surprised if we end up with a crop of Oscar nominees with historically low box office, just because people will not leave their houses for talking head movies anymore (talking head movie = a movie where people just sit in rooms and talk at each other). Spotlight made $98 million, but that was four years ago. I’m not confident the wisdom of four years ago works anymore, not when even great talking head movies are imploding at an alarming rate. We shall see.
And if you’re wondering how DuPont is doing in the wake of one of the biggest corporate cover-ups in history, they merged with Dow in 2015, bringing together the two largest US chemical companies. Then they gave a bunch of money to Trump’s inauguration, and Trump appointed a Dow lawyer to the EPA’s management team. The EPA then declined to ban a pesticide produced by the newly minted DowDuPont, which was originally developed by the Nazis as a nerve gas. Can’t wait to watch a movie about this in 20 years, unless we’re all dead by then from poisoned ground water.