Released September 29
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, in spite of its awkward title, is one of those movies that really makes full use of the medium of film.
Even though this is a political thriller without violence, sex or romance, it is a gripping story that develops like a chess game with fascinating pieces making unexpected moves. Director Peter Landesman tells the story by revealing clues rather than through exposition, so you will need to pay attention.
You will be pushed to think like an FBI agent – the visual clues let you process information and make deductions and predictions. The carefully restrained dialogue allows us the privilege of getting to know some intriguing characters through brilliant acting and superb visual storytelling.
Liam Neeson, whose resemblance to the real Mark Felt is uncanny, uses his supreme skill as an actor to convey a full range of emotions of a character who habitually presents a resolute poker face.
Diane Lane portrays the contained frustration and sadness of a woman who is resigned to having to uproot her family continuously as her husband is transferred from one FBI Field Office to another throughout the country (this aspect of Mark Felt’s history is not detailed in the movie).
Michael C. Hall is convincing and unrecognizable as “John Dean.” Ike Barinholtz and Eddie Marsan portray the obligatory rebellious, clever and mysterious nature of career intelligence agents. Marton Csolkas, a creative casting choice for “Pat Gray,” the new head of the FBI, is a chameleon of an actor who has excelled in roles as varied as “Celeborn” in Lord of the Rings to “Sheriff Brooks” in Loving.
The sound track by composer Daniel Pemberton is one of the best ever in film. It is a montage of music and sounds that so perfectly accompany the dark and mysterious maneuverings of the players that you don’t even realize it’s there. It is a subliminal catalyst to your emotions.
This movie lists 21 producers, including the director, Tom Hanks and Ridley Scott – apparently, a lot of people wanted to see this film made. Landesman also wrote the screenplay, based on the book written by Mark Felt himself with John O’Connor.
Landesman’s 2015 film Concussion, another excellent study of a contentious subject, brain damage in football athletes, was released at a time when CTE was just becoming acknowledged as a consequence of repeated blows to the head.
The key elements of Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House are two of the checks and balances of our democracy, the intelligence community and the Fourth Estate.
It is of interest that pre production on this biopic/ political thriller began in November 2015, prior to the 2016 presidential campaigns, and principal production began in May 2016.
That the film rings true in echoing current machinations in our government is a testament to the importance of these very checks and balances.
The message of the film is unspoken. However, if this movie inspires one person to devote their life to the intelligence community or to news reporting, it will be worth the production budget.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people.