2019 | Drama | 126 minutes | English
Robert Bilott is a promising lawyer in a prestigious Cincinnati law firm with a roster of major corporate clients including DuPont. One day, Wilbur Tennant, a farmer from nearby West Virginia, comes to the office and tells Robert his cattle have been dying. Wilbur is convinced that the culprit is the nearby DuPont plant that has been dumping poisonous waste in the rivers. As evidence, Wilbur drops off cardboard boxes filled with VHS tapes. After viewing the tapes, Robert concurs that DuPont is at fault and he agrees to represent Wilbur. But the head of the law firm, Tom Terp, reminds Robert that DuPont is one of their clients. Tom agrees to let Robert proceed if the investigation can be done quietly and quickly. Meanwhile, Robert’s wife, Sarah, is worried that Robert’s involvement in this case may cost him his job. The “quick” investigation turns into ten years. All this time Robert keeps plowing ahead until the courts finally decide. Not surprisingly, today we hear from many Roberts who are vigorously warning us of the dangers of global warming caused primarily by pollutants emitted from corporate factories.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 89%
- Metacritic Score: 73
- Satellite Awards: Nominated, Best Actor, Drama (Mark Ruffalo); Nominated, Best Adapted Screenplay (Mario Correa, Matthew Michael Carnahan, Nathaniel Rich)
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As a crusading attorney in DARK WATERS, Ruffalo has a role squarely in his comfort zone, and it’s no surprise he knocks it out of the park in a true-life David v. Corporate Goliath legal thriller.
For all its patience and droll humor, this is an angry movie, rightly so. The most crowd-pleasing moments find Ruffalo transformed into a Jimmy Stewart or Tom Hanks idealistic Everyman, railing against the world’s evils while also taking the time to explain how they became entrenched, and how it’s still possible to fight them, in a small way, at great cost.
DARK WATERS is a David and Goliath story with a central figure who knows what’s right and keeps chipping away, bit by bit, until he gets to the truth. He’s not driven by money or ego but by a sense of justice.
As great as DARK WATERS is, it imbued me with a certain sadness. The cold cynicism of the decision makers of DuPont cost real lives, and yet it is a multibillion-dollar company that has only gotten richer, and who knows what they’re doing to whom now. For some corporations that are too big to fail, human lives are far less important than their reputations and profits.
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