Coming to Bluray, DVD and currently on Digital from director Todd Haynes and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the story of a man who will stop at nothing to expose one of America’s most known company’s about DARK WATERS.
While working at his law firm in Cincinnati, Ohio, lawyer Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) is visited by Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp). A farmer who knows Bilott’s grandmother, he wants help with stopping DuPont from hurting people. Trying to explain that he is a corporate lawyer that works for chemical companies, he would recommend someone. Tennant becomes loud telling him that people are dying and gives him a box of videotapes.
Bilott goes to Parkersburg to visit his grandmother and find out about Tennant. Realizing whose farm it is, he drives over to see for himself as Tennant shows his the large amount of cows that have died on his farm from serious and strange illnesses. He also sees for himself what has happened to one of Tennant’s cows.
Running into Phil Donnelly (Victor Garber) who is a DuPont attorney, Bilott asks if he knows anything about what is happening in Parkersburgh and is told no. He then decides to film a claim to get information about the chemicals dumped on a site in the town. Getting the papers he has to slowly begin to understand the workings of the chemicals and what is regulated by the EPA.
He returns to Donnelly asking for all the information and in an angered move sends Bilott hundreds of boxes. This infuriates Bilott’s boss Tom Terp (Tim Robbins) but Terp also knows there is something going on. Now the case becomes personal with wife Sarah (Anne Hathaway) at home expecting their child. When he tears through their home, he has to explain to her why and Sarah begins to understand what her husband is up against.
Tennant is not in such great shape either as the town begins to turn against him for going after DuPont who they work for. No one in town understands the struggle the Tennant family is going through but instead make their lives frightening.
Entering the courtroom, Bilott has only one goal, getting justice, not money, for Tennant and those effected by the chemicals in Parkersburgh. This isn’t as simple as it sounds as a study is required before DuPont will agree to anything with testing of the locals. That will take seven years and Bilott facing troubles at the firm, strain at home and his health taking a beating.
Fighting for what is right against a giant meaning standing your ground for however long it takes!
Ruffalo as Bilott once again proves he has the stamina to take on a role like this. Then again, I already knew was excellent in roles as person who will not let go. Check out his role as journalist investigator Mark Rezendes in the 2015 film SPOTLIGHT to understand what I’m saying. Here he takes on DuPont – the giants of chemicals and the ever “life-changing” Teflon that most of us grew up with Mom’s using in the kitchen. He actually has a commanding voice without getting loud and the film draws you in by his horror in what he finds.
Camp as Tennant is a man who doesn’t take nonsense lightly. Instead, he is a man who is angry about what is happening to his farm, family and community – even if they don’t see it. He wants Bilott to jump in the dark water and do what is right, not what gets money. That’s what makes Camp’s portrayal so important because he is a man who is strong but deeply afraid.
Hathaway as wife Sarah doesn’t at first understand what it is her husband is trying to accomplish and once she does, is very supportive. But as the years pass, Sarah’s support comes with high tension and frustration. Robbins as Terp falls into that category as well as he wants to do what is right as a person, but his law firm isn’t just Terp and Bilott, there are others not so happy at what is happening.
Garber as Donnelly seems a nice enough person to Bilott but that changes when it is time to come clean with the truth. Shout out to Winningham as Darlene, a woman who doesn’t yet understand the lies she has been told and the repercussions of it all.
Other cast include Mare Winningham as Darlene Kiger, Bill Pullman as Harry Deitzler, William Harper as James Ross, Louisa Krause as Karla, Kevin Crowley as Larry Winter, Bruce Cromer as Kim Burke, Richard Hagerman as Joe Kiger, Abi Van Andel as Kathleen Welch, John Newberg as Dr. Gillespie and Denise Dal Vera as Sandra Tennant.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.
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Bonus Features of the Bluray include The Cost of Being a Hero – This piece examines real life Rob Bilott’s sacrifices to take down a powerful corporation and how a single individual can impact the entire community. Cast and filmmakers discuss the importance of telling this story and empowering whistle-blowers, Uncovering DARK WATERS – Get an inside look into the storytelling behind the gritty, real life story of DARK WATERS from Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, filmmakers and crew, and The Real People – Meet the real people from Parkersburg who were impacted first-hand by the contaminated water as they share these experiences being on set and taking part in the film.
The film is based on the 2016 New York Times Magazine article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare” by Nathaniel Rich. Also, the 2015 article “Welcome to Beautiful Parkersburg, West Virginia”. Sharon Lerner also wrote an article in The Intercept called “Bad Chemistry” and Robert Bilott wrote a book Exposure on the battle with DuPont.
I am a fan of the 2000 film ERIN BROKOVICH and DARK WATERS falls into that category as well. This time it is DuPont covering up and lying about what it knowns, when it knew it and the potential of everything having long term effects not only of the people in Parkersburg but of you and I as well.
Ruffalo takes the character of Bilott into places that most of us would have never suspected. There is no way to avoid the horrors of the effects and the film doesn’t hide any of it. So much so that when he shows the baby picture of Bucky Bailey, it is heart breaking but also smacks of the reality that none of us thought about 10 years ago let alone 30 years ago.
The film is though provoking because it brings back memories of home and how my own mother cooked so I’m very sure everyone who sees DARK WATERS will also recall their own. The film also shows how one man who was on the other side of the fence, questions his own life and the risks he is willing to take for the sake of pretty much everyone proving one man can make a difference.
In the end – the truth has a man on the inside!