I knew that ‘I Know This Much Is True’ was going to be tough. I remember reading the book during a week-long vacation in Provincetown and what a miserable (and engrossing) read that was. Strangely, though, I do not remember much from the book, except that it was very dark and heavy. I had to get myself in a mod to finally watch the first episode of the mini-series, and I finally did. And boy, was this heavy. Mark Ruffalo plays twins here, and it is a dual role of a lifetime. There’s Thomas, a schizophrenic, who in the beginning of the show is seen at a library where he saws his hand. And there’s Dom, who bears the brunt of his whole family, from his mother’s cancer to his stepfather’s controlling ways. There’s a harrowing scene where Dominic is asked by the doctor as to whether he was giving permission to reattach Thomas’ severed hand. Of course, he wants to do it, but Thomas is screaming at him to please don’t. And as he says later he made a decision to not do it because ‘for once, Thomas once tp have control over something in his life.’ Ruffalo is a great actor, for sure, and maybe it’s just me, but I have to get used to Thomas as hysterical and loud, as Ruffalo is normally more nuanced. It will be really tough for me to continue watching this, as I ask myself, do I need to go through something this bleak in this time of pandemic? But if there is anything that’s luring me back, it will be Ruffalo’s acting.
‘Todd Haynes has a new movie coming out,’ a friend of mine said to me about a month ago, and of course, I got excited. i do not love everything he has ever done, but more often than not, his films are interesting, and they all have very specific moods. Then I realized the film he directed was ‘Dark Waters,’ a movie whose trailer I had seen a couple of times already. My first thought was that it didn’t look like a Todd Haynes film. And after seeing the film, I surmise that it is, and it isn’t. ‘Dark Waters’ is a conventional thriller, and it had a specific thing to say, and it says it succinctly. It tells of a simple story, of how a large chemical company, int his case, Dupont, knowingly unleashed a chemical to the public – perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – via its products, specifically teflon, which is used in cooking pans and carpeting, among other things. Even as they discover its dangerous effects on people, they concealed this information to the public, and did harm to their employees. Mark Ruffalo (who also produced this) plays Robert Billott, who single-handedly fights the corporation, seeking justice.
The film has marvelous pacing – two minutes into the movie and you are right in the middle of the story. The screenplay moves fast, and there are a lot of scenes that for me were difficult to watch. Ruffalo plays the character as a dignified hero – no big scenes, no monologues that will catch the Academy’s eye – and the result is muted, but not less effective. Poor bewigged Anne Hathaway is treated like decoration here, but in the handful of scenes she is in, she shines. All in all, I was all in from the start of the film, and didn’t let go until the very end. As a thriller, this is a fantastic watch. As a film, it skews on the subtle side, and for some, that may not be enough.
I was raised a Catholic. As a matter of fact, I went to Catholic school all my life. I believe in God, as prescribed by Catholic Cathechism, and the prayers I say are the ones I have known since I was a child. So how did I react to all the revelations in the movie “Spotlight,” which chronicles the cover up of the Boston Archdiocese of their clergies who molested children? I felt saddened by it. This is an institution I believed in, although, truth be told, I have been disenchanted by the church as an institution for a while now. But I still believe in its fundamental lessons and will take those with me to my grave.
This film, directed by Tom McCarthy from his screenplay (with Josh Singer) is powerful in a lot of ways: it’s an effective procedural drama of how a group of reporters cracked a story that has literally been planted in front of their eyes. It is also an effective ensemble piece: using a great school of actors with not one performance outshining another – Michael Keaton, though, is an unofficial front runner for a supporting nod here, which could give him the Academy Award he lost last year. There is a fine balance with the characterizations, and there is impeccable focus in detail that made the article from which the story is based on more compelling and shocking. (The writers believed in a lack of euphemism in describing the stories) It is also an intelligent suspense thriller, appealing more to a broad emotional base. It also highlights the importance of investigative journalists. Broad sheets have now moved more on the internet, but the need for them has not and will never cease. Personally, I liked that “other” journalistic suspense film, “Truth” (my thoughts here ) because the focus on that story is more on a personal level, but I seem to be in the minority on that one.
And lastly – it made me think of faith, and the Catholic church in general. If they don’t move forward with the rest of the world, they may see themselves getting extinct. One of the findings stated here is that most priests have an emotional IQ of children, that’s why it is easy for them to justify their actions. And I think of myself – if I had children, would I want them educated by these people, knowing how flawed their system can be? I wish I had an answer, but obviously I am in the dark as everyone else. But the fact that this film made me question these things? That might be it’s ultimate legacy.