In this big business versus the little guy legal drama, Mark Ruffalo plays Rob Bilott, a corporate lawyer who switches allegiances when he discovers a decades-long dark secret in the waters of West Virginia.
Dark Waters is a procedural and straightforward true story based upon Nathaniel Rich’s New York Times article, The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare.
The film surrounds Billot, a rising star in the world of corporate law who is convinced by West Virginian farmer Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp) to switch allegiances from big business to the little guy. Tennant just so happens to be an acquaintance of Billot’s grandmother, so when he shows up to Billot’s offices distraught because his cows are dying en masse due to what he believes to be poisoning by chemical maker DuPont Billot is persuaded to investigate further. From there a long, drawn-out investigation over the course of many years places pressure on the lives, marriages and jobs of Tennant and Billot.
Dark Waters is a slow-burning film which accumulates weight over time, much like the chemical found to be seeping into the water supply of West Virginia. The film lingers on the minutia of the case, from the mountains of documents to the heated boardroom meetings and craft courtroom strategies.
The performances are great, particularly that of Bill Camp, and the message against corporate environmental pollution is poignant. However, because the means of delivery is slow and methodical this film won’t be for everyone.