Did you know that the mysterious ‘Rosebud’ reference in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane could be referring to the female genitalia? No? Does it matter? Is anyone really interested in knowing about the behind-the-scenes goings-on during the making of Citizen Kane? Many consider this 1941 classic to be the single best film that Welles ever made. By right, a film on the making of Citizen Kane should have been filled with intrigue romance lust and greed.
And it is! But David Fincher’s film goes so deep into the interiors of the film Citizen Kane that most of the running time seems to us from the outside like trade secrets being shared in code language. The atmosphere is laden with innuendos and threats as we catch the screenwriter of this movie-about-the-making-of-a-movie Herman Mankiewicz, known simply as ‘Mank’ henceforth, is nursing a broken leg. He has his comely secretary Rita Alexander(Lily Collins) for the company while his wife Sara (Tuppence Middleton) called ‘Poor Sara’ by the entire Hollywood fraternity, languishes for the lack of attention.
So does the screenplay of Citizen Kane which Mank is to write but he just can’t get it right. We could say it is birth-write, but what to do with so many distractions. I had a hard time trying to get to the core of the plot and the best that I could come up with is this. The entertainment industry cannibalizes its people in the garb of original art. Hence the screenplay of Citizen Kane that Mank is writing is said to have sought inspiration from William Randolph Hearst, played by the wonderful Charles Dance he tries to bring a bedrock of gravitas to a film that is hellbent on digging its own grave by secretly whispering about people and their verbal preoccupations as though we the audience should be wise enough to catch the nuances if we have any regard for Orson Welles and Citizen Kane.
The level of reality pertained to achieve by the director is ambitious that the whole affair becomes an exercise in phoney self-congratulation. The film is shot in a chich black-and-white. This is after all the 1930s. The narrative effortlessly transports us to the black-and-white era. Once there it seems unsure of what to do with the characters and the audience. Mank is waste of time. Better to watch Citizen Kane for the 17th time.
Directed by David Fincher the film gets 2 stars.
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