I imagine that many of those who had anticipated the December 4th premiere of Mank were especially excited to see the long-awaited return of David Fincher to feature-length filmmaking. I would also hope that most of the film’s biggest champions had seen Citizen Kane or at least had some knowledge of its place in cinematic history. I would not be surprised, however, if the title role of Herman Mankiewicz, portrayed by Gary Oldman, is someone many had never heard of before.
In fact, I would understand if most featured characters in the Netflix original biopic were strangers to anyone without a distinct familiarity for Hollywood’s Golden Age. Mank (a passion project for director David Fincher written by his late father, Jack, in the ‘90s) takes a dazzlingly witty, aesthetically meta, and shockingly relevant look at the dog-eat-dog, behind-the-scenes world of said era through the eyes of its central character – himself a prolific figure for the time despite never becoming a household name. A few household names do make appearances – such as Charlie Chaplin, Bette Davis, and Clark Gable – but you might not have even realized it was them during their brief moments on screen.