Fraser Johnston’s review published on Letterboxd:
1940. Film studio RKO hires 24-year-old wunderkind Orson Welles under a contract that gives him full creative control of his movies. For his first film he calls in washed up alcoholic Herman J Mankiewicz to write the screenplay. That film is Citizen Kane and this is the story of how it was written. Six years we have waited for a new David Fincher film...six years! One of the best filmmakers in the world today makes his homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood. A long awaited passion project for Fincher written by his father Jack, he has been waiting a long time to make this film and we have been waiting a long time for him to return to feature filmmaking. Following the Fincher trend by putting broken men front abs centre and Gary Oldman’s Mank is no exception. Oldman proves yet again he is one (if not) the best actor of our times. He gives us a very fragile yet charismatic performance as he juxtaposes the vulnerability in his later years and the charm of his youth to give us a very complex yet compelling character. Fincher’s precise filmmaking style is present in all its monochromatic glory. However, this is the first time I have seen a cigarette burn in a Fincher film since his 1999 cult classic Fight Club. Again, the use of another Fincher trope by manipulating the narrative and teasing more information through flashbacks. We jump from Herman’s rise in popularity in Hollywood as he challenges the very system he’s a part of to Mank being stuck in a bed due to his alcoholism while trying to write Citizen Kane to a desperate deadline. It’s hard not to be taken in by the glorious glitz and glam of classic Hollywood but Fincher always finds a way to make its audience lurk in the shadows. As we watch history unfold we see pinnacle figures become human and brought back to life on the silver screen. Although it does have pacing issues, you’ll be drawn into the history and for Fincher to finally pay tribute to his late father.