Dark Waters

Todd Haynes’ work has always been about protest and activism, usually through subtle twists of identity and sexuality, such as in The Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven or Carol.

He applies his skills now to the legal procedural, with Mark Ruffalo as the corporate lawyer taking on the case of a midWestern farmer who claims plastics giant Dupont are poisoning his land and his cattle with run-off from their factory.

It’s a very carefully crafted film, which is to say it might drift into dullness, but then only because it’s about the detail and drabness of bringing such cases and fighting them. Ruffalo looks as if he feels every file and loophole, every greying moment, every poisonous drop. 

But Haynes keeps things classy and clammy as we realise we’re tainted by the creep of plastics in our world. I liked it, sure, but its deliberate lack of spark or grandstanding makes for heavy-going. It’s as if the film’s saying law and justice can be long and boring, and perhaps not always feel worth it in the end, even if you know you did the right thing.