In "Dark Waters", in theaters Wednesday, the American director Todd Haynes changes his register to try his hand at the cinema of denunciation, through the true story of a lawyer who fought against the giant of the chemistry DuPont, at the heart of a pollutant scandal.
In this film, actor Mark Ruffalo ("Zodiac", "Avengers") plays lawyer Robert Bilott, who fought a long legal battle against DuPont, on behalf of some 70,000 people whose drinking water had been contaminated by perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in West Virginia.
Perfluorinated compounds, which are used in particular in the manufacture of non-stick pans, certain food packaging and anti-stain coatings, are very persistent in the environment and suspected of being carcinogenic and endocrine disruptors.
It was Mark Ruffalo, also environmental activist and one of the producers of the film, who was behind the project, after the publication in 2016 in the New York Times Magazine of an article telling the story. He proposed it to Todd Haynes, who says he was "stunned and shocked" by this story.
"+ Dark Waters + departs a little from the style of films with which I am most of the time associated", recognizes Todd Haynes, especially known for his elegant melodramas in the line of Douglas Sirk, like "Far from paradise" and "Carol" .
"Nevertheless, it remains a genre film: the cinema of denunciation, one could say for lack of something better. I have always loved this genre", continues the filmmaker in the film's production notes, citing among his references "The Men of the president "of Alan J. Pakula and" Revelations "of Michael Mann.
To tell the story of this solitary whistleblower in detail, while keeping the spectator in suspense, Todd Haynes met with Robert Bilott, some of his former colleagues and the other stakeholders in the case.
"It was for me the biggest challenge: to be faithful to the facts and to show respect for each character by taking into account their singularity, while making the story accessible and captivating", explains the filmmaker, for whom "this film is very topical. "
"The commitments to improve the quality of water and air, or in favor of endangered species or climate change have never been met," he said, saying that there is "an urgency to show this film, to let people take it".
During a recent visit to the European Parliament in Brussels, Mark Ruffalo called on Europeans to be "heroes" in the fight against chemical pollutants.
© 2020 AFP