Dark Waters

7.62 h 7 min2021X-RayPG-13
A corporate environmental defense attorney (Mark Ruffalo) risks his career and his family when he takes action against a chemical corporation hiding a dark secret.
Not Specified
Mark RuffaloAnne HathawayTim Robbins
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]

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Supporting actors
Bill CampVictor GarberMare WinninghamBill Pullman
Mark RuffaloChristine VachonPamela Koffler
Storyteller Distribution Co.,
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
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Alcohol usenudityfoul languagesexual contentviolence
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4.5 out of 5 stars

22413 global ratings

  1. 70% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Carl SchultzReviewed in the United States on December 9, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Solid, Challenging, Intelligent
“Dark Waters” Distributed by Focus Features, 126 Minutes, Rated PG-13, Released November 22, 2019:

There’s a scene in the 1976 political drama “All the President’s Men” in which Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford as Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward need to request from a Library of Congress staff member every checkout slip processed in the past three years in one of the largest libraries in the world.

“I’m not sure you want ‘em,” the sympathetic librarian tells them, “but I got ‘em.” And in the next shot, the camera slowly pans upward to see the two reporters beginning to sift through tables and tables filled with hundreds of thousands of library checkout slips, in an attempt to find a single clue which will help them to solve the mystery behind the Watergate break-in.

There’s a similar scene in “Dark Waters,” the new fact-based legal thriller from Focus Features now playing in movie theaters across the United States. In the scene, the intrepid attorney played by actor Mark Ruffalo requests from the gigantic DuPort chemical conglomerate records of research material related to the manufacture of one specific compound.

In reluctant compliance with the request--as well as an effort to discourage any future investigation by the government--DuPort sends the attorney dozens and dozens of packing crates filled with records. And with a sigh, Ruffalo as the attorney hunkers down in his law firm’s conference room to begin the Sisyphean task of examining the hundreds of thousands of documents, one by one.

Both scenes are important to their pictures’ narratives, enormously revealing background touches in unusually engrossing movies. The purpose of the segments is plain--that any result, is desirable enough, is worth working for.

If “Dark Waters” and 2000’s “Erin Brockovich” were playing as a double feature at a drive-in theater, you might feel compelled to leave halfway through the second movie...no matter which picture played first. But sometimes surface resemblances can be misleading--while the two pictures have similarities and both are informative and richly entertaining movies, a major difference is that the older picture’s conclusion is more satisfying...mostly because the events of “Dark Waters” are still playing out.

Adapted by screenwriters Mario Correa and Matthew Michael Carnahan from writer Nathaniel Rich’s New York Times Magazine article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” in “Dark Waters” a successful and upwardly mobile attorney for a prosperous corporate legal firm places his carefully-plotted career on hold to help a rural farmer pursue a complaint of a local refinery’s waste water is poisoning his cattle...and discovers that the case leads to the highest echelons of corporate America.

If neither DuPont nor Teflon are among the sponsors for this year’s Academy Awards broadcast, don’t be surprised to find Mark Ruffalo’s name among the Best Actor nominees for his role in “Dark Waters.” Ruffalo is the rare performer who puts his money where his mouth is--a dedicated social activist as well as a gifted actor. When the actor combines the two pursuits, people tend to take notice: 2015’s Academy Award-winning “Spotlight” is an example. In “Dark Waters,” Ruffalo seems to be trying hard to blend into the ensemble--after adding a few pounds to portray the real-life Robert Bilott, the actor resembles Oliver Platt--but his talent, and his social conscience, shine through in every scene.

“Dark Waters” is good, solid, smart motion picture entertainment. You have to work a little to keep up with the plot development--this is one picture for which your ninth grade chemistry will come in handy--and the picture’s conclusion isn’t completely reassuring. The ultimate message is as sobering and troubling as it is inspiring: ”THEY don’t protect us--WE protect us.” But if you think about it, that’s what Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, and the other founding fathers were telling us all along.

Supporting Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway disguised in a succession of unflattering black wigs is wasted in a nothing role as Ruffalo’s brittle wife, but the reliable old pro Bill Pullman has fun in a showy little role as a seasoned and wiley small-town country lawyer who’s amused to find himself taking on big business for the first time in his career. And ubiquitous supporting player Bill Camp has the role of a lifetime, so persuasive as the crusty West Virginia rancher whose problems set the plot in motion that the viewer might well mistake him for the real deal.

Directed by Todd Haynes, “Dark Waters” is earning superb reviews from the critics, including an approval rating of 97% from Rotten Tomatoes and 93% from Metacritic. The picture’s been gaining momentum at the box office--originally placed into a limited release pattern in only five locations across the United States and Canada, the film expanded into 94 theaters during its second week and entered the Box Office Mojo charts in eighteenth place. Now playing in 2012 theaters across the US--about half the number as, say, “Frozen II”--the picture has risen to an impressive sixth place in the Box Office Mojo Top Ten.

“Dark Waters” is rated PG-13 for some disturbing images, and strong language.
204 people found this helpful
Saxby CoburgReviewed in the United States on December 7, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is what cinema should be, but very rarely is.
This is what cinema should be, but very rarely is...a film that deepens our understanding of our world and our lives with drama, script and performances. In the end, it might even save our lives. Thank you, Mark Ruffalo, Todd Haynes, you did yourselves proud.
139 people found this helpful
Julia LReviewed in the United States on February 20, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Everyone who lives on earth should see this movie
Verified purchase
Watched it with my 13 year old daughter. We both loved it. The acting is impressive, the story tied and well-told, and the director respects and values its audience.

The story is so important, everyone should see it, regardless of political opinion, education, etc... Unless you're part of the 0.0001% who just don't care at all and have a dead mind and a heart of stone.

Thankful for the real-life people that it depicts. You'll see.
82 people found this helpful
R. BurnsReviewed in the United States on March 14, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
BEWARE when buying movies through AMAZON!!!
Verified purchase
Well, had we known we had to watch the "video" we purchased in 24 hours after we started we NEVER would have made the purchase! This is a long movie, my husband and I work LONG hours and use our brief bits of down time to unwind - but HEY - we needed to watch the whole thing in a 24 hr window! WTF!!!! REALLY!!! What a rip off amazon - and now with corona keeping so many of us laying low in our homes perhaps you might want to step up your game and give the people some time to watch what we purchase. GEEZE!!!
58 people found this helpful
Paul AllaerReviewed in the United States on December 7, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Mark Ruffalo shines in David v. Goliath legal battle
"Dark Waters" (2019 release; 126 min.) brings the story of Cincinnati lawyer Rob Bilott's long legal battle against DuPont. As the movie opens, it is "1975 Parkersburg, West Virginia" as we see several teenagers (one of them a young Bilott) go swimming in a lake that we later see being sprayed with chemicals. We then go to "1998 Cincinnati, Ohio", and Rob has just made partner at Taft, one of the large law firms in Cincinnati. Then a stranger shows up who is from Parkersburg and knows Rob's grandmother. The stranger, Wilbur Tennant, claims that chemicals have ruined his farm, he has the VHS tapes to prove it, and can Rob please represent him.... At this point we're 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all turns out.

Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from Todd Haynes, whose prior movie, the excellent "Carol" was coincidentally also filmed here in Cincinnati (where I live). But that is where the comparisons stop. Here, Haynes brings to the big screen the long battle that Bilott fought against chemical giant DuPont. The film starts a bit tentative in my opinion, but after the first half hour, the tension doesn't let up as DuPont is fighting with all of its might against Bilott. This movie is a labor of love for Mark Ruffalo, who stars and also co-produces. I've seen a lot of the films that Ruffalo has made in his career, and I don't know that he's ever been better, playing the almost mousy yet determined lawyer. Anne Hathaway seems underused as the supportive spouse but as the movie goes deeper, her role expands. The movie was filmed in early 2019 in and around Cincinnati, and the downtown area is featured extensively, including Fountain Square, the Queen City Club, the Hall of Mirrors at the Netherland Plaza, etc.

The movie had a red carpet premiere here in Cincinnati a week before it got a limited release. This weekend it got a wide release, and the Friday early evening screening where I saw it at my art-house theater here in Cincinnati was attended okay (about 20 people). This movie will create strong word of mouth, and if it manages to pick up some award nominations (as it is expected), this could have a decent run in the theaters. If you are interested in a tense legal drama where Mark Ruffalo shines, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
74 people found this helpful
James MorrisReviewed in the United States on March 5, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
“The System is Rigged”
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I first became aware of Dark Waters when I saw Mark Ruffalo promoting the film on The Late Show. I was so impressed with the short film clip and Mark Ruffalo’s characterization of the film as “tremendously important” that I went straight to Amazon and ordered the Blu Ray before the interview even ended. I didn’t bother to see it in the theatre, rather I sat back and waited for the movie to be delivered. I received it yesterday and watched it this evening. Wow.

Mark Ruffalo plays real-life attorney Rob Bilott, a Corporate Attorney whose career is made on defending chemical companies, such as DuPont, from lawsuits. One day, Rob receives a visit from a farmer, who says he’s a friend and neighbor of his grandmother. “I need help”, the farmer says.

“I’m a corporate attorney”, Rob responds, “I defend chemical companies”.

“Well”, says the farmer, “now you can defend me”.

Reluctantly, he travels to the farmer’s property to see what the complaint is. The farmer has two cows. “I lost the rest. They died”.

“How many?” asks Ruffalo’s character.

“One hundred and eighty”, answers the farmer.

After making some discreet inquiries with DuPont chemical, attorney Bilott files for discovery and what he finds is mind-boggling. Apparently, DuPont has been hiding harmful health effects of its billion-dollar product, Teflon, since the 1970’s.

Thus begins as fascinating and interesting a “whistle-blower” tale as you are ever likely to see. Midway through the film, Bilott discovers that the harmful chemicals in Teflon are present in the local drinking water in the West Virginia town where Teflon is manufactured.

There is everything here to keep you interested and plenty angry. Corporate greed, cover-ups, court intrigue and a human interest story that involves us all. At the films conclusion, we are told that studies show that the harmful chemical in Teflon, C-8, is present in almost all living creatures, including 99% of human beings.

Based on a true story and based on a New York Times exposé, the film is buoyed by wonderful performances by Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway and Bill Pullman. Also included are appearances by several of the real-life victims of the Chemical company. Particularly effecting is a brief appearance by Bucky Bailey, who was born with birth defects after his mother worked in the plant that manufactures Teflon.

I fully expected this film to be enlightening and entertaining. Upon viewing it, I was also frustrated and found myself very angry at the actions and callousness of the DuPont Chemical Co.

This film is not to be missed. Very, very highly recommended and rated Five Stars.
25 people found this helpful
LarryReviewed in the United States on March 23, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Not accurate on most of the details
Verified purchase
I suppose the drama is there. People and cows get sick and coincidently DuPont is dumping chemical. But the they extrapolate to Teflon frying pans being poisonous because of C-8 (PFOA)

PFOA is perfluorooctanoic acid and is a surfactant that was used in the dispersion polymerization of tetrafluoroethylene to make PTFE (poly-TFE). During that process, the C-8 is mostly (overhwelmingly) washed out of the product. So Ruffalo's epiphany when he realizes that all frying bans must be deadly poisonous is a bit silly. He barely knows what the initials PFOA mean and has not bothered to explore how PTFE is made or what a surfactant is. Or how much residual C-8 there is in a typical frying pan after C-8 is washed out during PTFE manufacture.

Neither is the connection with the cows made. Neither is there a connection between the cows and the medical problems that are being sued for as the movie rushes to its sanctimonious end. The movie confuses the issues and ignores the science of C-8.
19 people found this helpful
ldemarReviewed in the United States on February 28, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
This deserved an oscar nod if not win
Verified purchase
Thank you, Mark et al, for bringing us the fine details of this very American corporatocracy tale.

We have a county owned by global interests, including the oversight agencies.

What's most amazing to me is that you can get as many Americans to play along with scamming their neighbors and their neighbors kids out of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for money. I have always assumed there were more honest people than not in this country, maybe there is. Maybe the problem is that the honest people assume and trust ENOUGH PEOPLE have the same line in the morality sand as they do - or is it all elitism?

....and it's just so sad so many are so willing to trade a fancy and/or simply better, house, car and shoes for their soul.

A great movie that should be seen by way more people especially everyone that drinks water.
22 people found this helpful
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