4 out of 5 stars
Some might say that wherever power resides, corruption is most likely a close neighbour. The two go hand in hand in a multitude of settings like politics and business, then to have these entities come together, fraud tends to exist. Dupont has been one of the most influential organisations in the world over the past century. When the people and animals near the chemical plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia began to get sick and die, residents began to question the practices of the biggest employer in the area.
A former resident of the West Virginia township, Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo), is now a partner at the prestigious Taft Stettinius & Hollister. This corporate defence lawyer is approached in his office by a Parkersburg farmer, Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp). The straight-talking man has come to Robert for help with evidence that his animals and family are being poisoned by the local Dupont plant. His livestock are dying with inexplicable health complications and he is not getting any assistance from the local authorities. Even though Bilott is a defence attorney, he does some digging into the situation to find a quick solution and potential restitution for the desperate farmer.
Taft Stettinius & Hollister had a working relationship with the Dupont corporation and Rob was able to pull some strings to find information about the issues in the small town. Then his investigation took a severe turn for him and the chemical giant, when he discovered that the corporation was hiding some key facts. The key to his research was about PFOA, a chemical with no references in any medical textbook, but one that was used extensively in consumer products as Teflon, despite having harmful properties. At high personal and professional cost, the lawyer continued his work to help the community and the world to be made aware of the questionable and harmful practices of Dupont.
Robert Bilott is not the most dynamic character, but the situation that he found himself in had historic implications. Dark Waters is based on the New York Times article, "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont's Worst Nightmare" by Nathaniel Rich. A story that may not have a multitude of action sequences or the most compelling individuals, but the dramatic elements that occur to ordinary people make for fascinating cinema. Mark Ruffalo proves that he is not going to be defined by his role as the Hulk by showing that playing an understated middle-aged lawyer can do more to impact our world.
Reminiscent of Silkwood, Vice and Michael Clayton, corporate corruption has been a key force for screenwriters and directors throughout the years. Most of these stories tend to involve localised issues that have little direct impact on most audience members. What differentiates this film of business doing bad things from many that have come before? It shows that 99% of the population of the world is affected by the acts of this company. A well-told narrative that shows how the decisions of a few can have an impact on the world as a whole. Dark Waters is a film that proves that we need to hold one another accountable for our actions.
Reel Dialogue: What can we really know about courage?
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. - The Apostle Paul
An underlying message of Dark Waters is the notion of human courage, some may come away with the idea that this is a man-made concept. An alternative thought would be that God has a plan for his creation to live courageously. The only stipulation is that we should live to his standard, not based on our own preconceived notions.
Many see the Bible as being a book of limitations and regulations as opposed to seeing it as an instruction book on how to truly engage with and get the most out of the life that we have been given. Have you taken the time to read the instruction manual?
Passages on living courageously: Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 37:4, Psalm 90:12, Proverbs 27:1, Matthew 6:34, Philippians 4:13, John 10:10