Netflix movie of the day: Dark Waters is Mark Ruffalo fighting injustice at its finest

Mark Ruffalo looks angry while talking to someone in the movie Dark Waters
(Image credit: Focus Features)
Movie of the day

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When I wrote about Erin Brockovich not too long ago, I spoke about the great movie genre of ‘injustice being investigated, ideally by lawyers and journalists’ – and now we can dig into the surprisingly prevalent sub-genre of that: ‘and Mark Ruffalo is involved in the investigation’. This genre of all-masterpieces includes Spotlight, Zodiac and the lesser-known-but-essential Dark Waters. It’s the story of a corporate chemical lawyer discovering a scandal so severe, he has to turn his life upside down to prevent it, and it's on Netflix.

DARK WATERS | Official Trailer | In Theaters November 22 - YouTube DARK WATERS | Official Trailer | In Theaters November 22 - YouTube
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Ruffalo plays Robert Bilott, a lawyer for a firm that represents chemical giant DuPont, among others. Knowing that he works in environmental law, a friend of the family visits him for help with a clear case of poisoning on his farm since DuPont started disposing of waste nearby. Bilott initially looks into it just to reassure the farmer that the chemicals are safe, but… they’re not. And DuPont knows they’re not. And they’re being put into a lot more parts of life than just a farmer’s field.

The movie is named like it's a ’90s Japanese horror movie, and is shot by director Todd Haynes (Carol, I'm Not There, and previous movie of the day pick May December) like one as well. It’s so moody and bleak in the best way, with shots of beautiful landscapes tinged with a sense of dread – the camera drains the life out of the landscape, just as the chemicals do.

The performances from Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway as his wife are exercises in frustration when facing the sheer difficulty of trying to get justice against a giant with bottomless pockets. They need to give up for their own sanity, but they know – just as you do when watching – that they can’t give up.

But countering this frustration is progress. Each fresh Herculean effort by Bilott returns some new clue, some new sliver of evidence hidden in a room of documents, some victory in court, some inspiration that the moral arc of the universe will bend towards justice.

It’s not the funnest watch in the world, admittedly, but it’s an oddly soothing one in some ways – a vibey, slow story of a man battling The Man, and I’d rank it among the best Netflix movies.

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Matt Bolton
Managing Editor, Entertainment

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.