I like to cook (I always have), and I love my non-stick pans. When I was younger, we did not have non-stick cookware, and I remember how the pans would stick to the bottom, making the food turn out less than great. Add to that having to clean them afterwards, and when Teflon because a non-stick alternative, it was well received. However, there were rumors that the material was not safe and would flake onto the food cooked into them. The story of the attorney that takes on the DuPont family as a result of this is the subject of “Dark Waters”.
Directed by Todd Haynes (Enlightened), this film stars Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s Eight), Williams Jackson Harper (Midsommar), Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption,), Bill Pullman (Independence Day), Victor Garber (Argo) and Bill Camp (Joke). As Robert Bilott (Ruffalo), an attorney who specializes in tort law defending chemical companies, becomes partner for a big law firm in Cincinnati, he meets Wilbur Tennant (Camp). Tenant lives in West Virginia and claims DuPont has a landfill close to his property where they are illegally dumping chemicals that have killed many of his cattle and causing health problems to himself, his family and his neighbors. As Robert starts looking into the case, he ends up filing a lawsuit and in 1988 against DuPont over Teflon, which may not be as safe as people think with DuPont allegedly doing horrible things to get the product to market in one of the biggest lawsuits in American history.
Most of the outside shots, like the farms in West Virginia, had either cloudy or stormy weather which really enhanced the story itself. When it comes to the acting, this cast is solid, specifically Camp as the hillbilly farmer role whose accent was so thick I almost could not understand him and needed subtitles, which is typical in that section of the country. But let’s just get this out of the way: Ruffalo gives a performance that rivals that of “Spotlight,” and if he is not in the awards conversation there is simply something wrong with the sytem.
“Dark Water” is a little over two hours long, and while it may be a little long, it works for this film. I think it is trying to make a point about the lawsuit, especially since some of the claims are still active to this day, which I think Haynes uses to make the point that the lawsuit is a long and drawn out process. It really did remind me a lot of the John Travolta film “A Civil Action” for reference, and I will definitely recommend this film and as a twilight showing in the theaters.