There’s a surprising amount of blind faith that the public give large corporations. There’s this preconception of sorts that they wouldn’t necessarily do us, their customers, any real harm. And yet scandal after scandal happens, from the meat we buy to the companies that sell us the fuel for our vehicles.
This film highlights yet another company, which again you wouldn’t initially expect to be dangerous as they sell frying pans – unless whacking someone over the head with one counts – that have actually been poisoning virtually everyone on this planet for years.
Working in a Cincinnati law firm as a corporate defence lawyer is Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo). One day at work he’s visited by a farmer with some wild accusations about what’s been happening on his farm, that includes a number of unexplained deaths of his cattle, that he believes is linked to a large plant in the area owned by DuPont.
Robert attempts to explain to the farmer that he’s not his guy, after all, he defends chemical companies like DuPont for a living, but the farmer is insistent. Robert would have just ignored him, but as he said he was a friend of his Grandmother, he gives his situation a bit more thought.
He visits his grandmother, asks about the farmer, and she admits to knowing Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp) and his farm. Robert decides to do Wilbur the courtesy of visiting his farm at least, and isn’t prepared for what he sees. He tells Wilbur he’ll look into it a little, just to put his mind at ease.
Little does Robert know that he’s just uncovered the tip of an extremely large and deadly iceberg that will consume him for years to come.
After fairly quirky and creative features such as Velvet Goldmine and I’m Not there, American director Todd Haynes wisely delivers this absorbing true story with no frills whatsoever. He does what any director with this kind of material do, and simply let the story do the work.
He’s certainly helped by some fine performances, including that of Tim Robbins, Anne Hathaway and the all too brief appearance of Bill Pullman, but its Ruffalo’s everyman character that is the very solid rock to anchor the film.
Haynes sticks rigidly to the conventions of a true life drama, by allowing the jaw-dropping truth to do its work as it’s slowly drip-fed. It’s far more powerful than any hammy performance or flashy cinematography could ever convey.
It’s the type of film that will make you think – really think – as you let it sink in how nearly everyone on the planet will have traces of the toxic compounds in their blood that DuPont produced, as it’s in everything from the water we drink, to the clothes we wear, to the carpets we walk on, as well as on their Teflon-coated kitchen wear. And there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it now.
Haynes exposes the atrocities that DuPont have committed on mankind, as well as the humble hero in Bilott, for not only calling them out on it, but taking them on.
It’s truly thought-provoking, making it the most horrifying film about a dangerous threat in the water since Jaws.