review by Bobby Blakey
Johnny Depp is not only one of my all-time favorite actors I think he is one of the best actors period. Sadly al the personal drama has thrown a wrench into a lot of his films and taken the center stage. I happy to see his latest film Minamata finally getting a release push co-starring Hiroyuki Sanada, Bill Nighy, Tadanobu Asano and Jun Kunimura. Could this latest film bring to light the horrors of what happened or will it be more waste dumped into the world?
Minamata follows celebrated photojournalist Eugene Smith. The film takes place in 1971 when we find Smith as a recluse and disconnected from the world he once shot. After receiving one final assignment from Life Magazine editor Robert Hayes, Eugene must travel to the Japanese coastal city of Minamata, which has been ravaged by mercury poisoning. Ushered by an impassioned Japanese translator, Aileen and encouraged by local villagers, Eugene’s powerful images expose decades of gross negligence by the country’s Chisso Corporation.
This film was supposed to get released sometime back, but studios shelved it and tried to bury it due to the public issues of Depp, but thankfully it has finally got a release. Love him or hate him there is no doubt Depp is one of the greatest actors of our time and once again showcases it here. He has become a chameleon on film fully immersing himself into the roles. This one is no different and while this is a more subtle performance it is still another great one. He is a man on the end of his career and drinking and it comes through with the depth of his inner struggles and dedication to his craft and the truth.
The supporting cast all are great in a story that is important that a light be shined on it. The always great Hiroyuki Sanada has a smaller role here, but it’s powerful and he brings the power in his performance with it. The story is sad and infuriating with similar structure to something like Eric Brokovich,
but through photography and international. It’s a slow burn as it unravels the story as it is not a mystery but instead exposure to get some sort of resolution for the people that suffered and sadly continue to do so. The unique cinematography adds a beautiful quality to the horrific visuals with it showcasing the imagery both still and video in black and white the way Smith photographed everything before switching back to color. This was a symbol of the photos being taken and the homage to the man’s work that brought so much attention to the causes and changed photographic storytelling.
I really enjoyed this film even though it pissed me off especially the end credits showcasing all the varying pollution scenarios around the world both old and current and sadly very little solutions to most of them including Minamata.
Samuel Goldwyn Films will release Minamata VOD and Digital on April 8th.