Cincinnati-Filmed Mark Ruffalo Movie 'Dark Waters' is Getting Oscar Buzz

The film is about local attorney Rob Bilott's 15-year battle against one of the world's largest chemical companies, DuPont

Nov 5, 2019 at 9:39 am
click to enlarge Mark Ruffalo as Rob Bilott in "Dark Waters" - MARY CYBULSKI/FOCUS FEATURES
Mark Ruffalo as Rob Bilott in "Dark Waters"

Cincinnati-based attorney Rob Bilott's battle — and eventual victory — against one of the world's largest chemical companies, DuPont, has been the subject of much coverage, including an extensive feature from The New York Times Magazine, a documentary titled The Devil We Know and now a forthcoming film produced by and starring Mark Ruffalo entitled Dark Waters. 

Directed by Todd Haynes — who also directed 2015's Cincinnati-shot Carol — the not-yet-released film is already receiving awards season buzz. Set to be released Nov. 22, it follows Bilott (Ruffalo) as he connects a series of unexplained deaths to DuPont and works to bring justice to the people of rural Parkersburg, West Virginia, who had been exposed to deadly chemicals for decades. 

As the film's description reads, Bilott "finds himself conflicted after he’s contacted by two West Virginia farmers who believe that the local DuPont plant is dumping toxic waste in the area landfill that is destroying their fields and killing their cattle. Hoping to learn the truth about just what is happening, Bilott, with help from his supervising partner in the firm, Tom Terp (Tim Robbins), files a complaint that marks the beginning of an epic 15-year fight — one that will not only test his relationship with his wife, Sarah (Anne Hathaway) but also his reputation, his health and his livelihood."

On Nov. 1, Deadline named the film as an Oscar contender after a debut post-q&a screening at Hollywood's Harmony Gold Theater. In the article, Pete Hammond wrote that the real-life Bilott — who attended the event — got the "longest and loudest standing ovation from the SAG and media members" that he can remember. He also called it an "enormously powerful film with superb performances that has quite frankly been a well-kept secret until this week, largely due to the decision to forgo the fest circuit." 

And in the latest issue of The New Yorker, Haynes was the subject of a feature written by John Lahr, who opens the article on the set of Dark Waters when it was being shot in Cincinnati this March — specifically, in downtown's Taft Stettinius & Hollister law firm. The story guides the reader not only through the moments on the set of the film, but also weaves through the childhood and adulthood of Haynes as well as the work of Bilott. The latter released a book, Exposure, just last month honing in on the DuPont case, straight from the real-life protagonist. 

Watch the trailer for Dark Waters below: