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Captioned: Dark Waters

Todd Haynes

Todd Haynes’ Dark Waters shines a spotlight on the decades long lawsuit between chemical giant DuPont and the people of Parkersburg, West Virginia, who were knowingly poisoned for decades.

"Director [Todd] Haynes effortlessly and incrementally shows why his nuanced storytelling has won such acclaim."

It’s 1998, and Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) is a partner at the Taft Stettinius & Hollister law firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. When his Parkersburg grandmother sends a neighbouring farmer to his office, Bilott first comes across the case that will dominate the next 18 years of his life. With his glamorous wife (Anne Hathaway) and new baby in tow, Bilott goes back to his family’s roots to investigate, and sees things on the farm he cannot forget. Bilott sets out with a small challenge to DuPont; but in the self-regulating world of petrochemicals, this is perceived badly. Even the residents of Parkersburg, riddled with cancers and deformities, will turn against him in a town where the company is by far the largest employer.

As the case proceeds, director Haynes (Far From Heaven, Carol, Wonderstruck) effortlessly and incrementally shows why his nuanced storytelling has won such acclaim. His trademark visual flourishes may be absent but Dark Waters is beautifully crafted and a wonderful showcase for Ruffalo’s talent as an actor. Quietly galvanizing, the film harks back to the powerful social issue dramas of the 1970s. We may have come full circle, but it is important to be reminded, when society eats away at the planet, it is still possible to take a stand, and win.