by Brendan Labra, Student Writer

The Lost Films at Messiah is showcasing Dark Waters(2019) this upcoming weekend. The film focuses heavily on a multi-year court case against the multi-billion dollar chemical company, DuPont.

While the original plot synopsis may not catch your eye, Dark Waters turns out a chilling piece of work that highlights the corruption of big companies and shows what it truly means to fight for the “little guy”.

Trouble in the Country

Dark Waters takes a look at the life of Defense Attorney Rob Bilott (Mark Ruffalo). After making partner for a big law firm in Ohio, Bilott is asked to travel to Parkersburg, West Virginia by local farmer Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp). Due to family ties that Bilott has with the area of Parkersburg, Bilott eventually convinces himself to travel down to Tennant’s farm, where we quickly see that things are not in order.

Tennant’s farm has been decimated by what he claims to be a chemical outbreak that has put 190 of his cows in the ground in the past few years. On top of that, Tennant’s cows have developed multiple tumors and irregularities that are most definitely a cause of concern. After some convincing, Bilott is compelled to take on this case against DuPont, who Tennant believes is the culprit behind all of this.

The rest of the film follows the pain-staking journey that Bilott takes in an attempt to take down a major American corporation. Bilott spends years of his life culminating research and data that directly exposes DuPont, but is constantly being forced to jump through hurdles set up before him.

Amazing Performances

While Dark Waters does have a compelling story going for it, the performances by the films main characters are superb and carry the film past heights the plot could ever take it. Mark Ruffalo does a great job as the reserved Bilott, but his best scenes are whenever frustration gets the best of him and he acts uncharacteristically.

Anne Hathaway puts in a tremendous performance as Sarah Bilott, Rob’s wife. Hathaway’s arc easily could have felt underdeveloped since the movie’s main plot does not follow her, but she forces her way into the audience’s mind and leaves a lasting impression in each scene she is in.

Even minor characters such as the farmers of Parkersburg do a fantastic job at making one feel the tension that is brought unto this small town with a big lawsuit.

Themes Under the Surface

Dark Waters main plot does without a doubt take precedence through the entirety of the film. That being said, when watching this weekend, be sure to look for some important themes.

Dark Waters does a fantastic job of making the conflict in the film feel tangible to the everyday people of not only Parkersburg, but the main characters as well. We are able to see how much of an effect this long court case has on the Bilott family and the families of those who are directly impacted in the small town in West Virginia.

Dark Waters gets 4.25/5 stars.


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