“Dark Waters” keeps you longing for the truth

The true story of Robert Bilott calls attention to an important issue.


Courtesy of IMDb

The film “Dark Waters” shows Robert Bilott as he looks to uncover the truth about a toxic chemical that poses a health risk to the world at large.

Lauren McBride, Staff Writer

A thrilling case that builds upon multiple layers, “Dark Waters” truly relies on the patience of its audience, while each revelation in the story drags the audience deeper into it. Through eerie visuals and a complex plot, director Todd Haynes beautifully crafts the retelling of a true story that keeps viewers shocked, invested and longing for the truth.  


Starring Anne Hathaway and Mark Ruffalo, “Dark Waters” follows the story of underdog attorney Robert Bilott as he undergoes a strenuous fight to discover the truth about PFOA, a toxic chemical that poses a health risk to the world at large. Bilott’s fight to prove what chemical company DuPont is hiding affects not only him, but his family, company and community. His taxing efforts put his job, mental and physical health and eventually his life at risk.

The plot perfectly balances thrill and heartwarming inspiration. Intense stakes, near-jump scares and a baffling mystery keep viewers on the edge of their seats, but the story does not lack depth of character. Bilott’s persistence despite the arduous toll his job is taking on him shows he is not working toward recognition or money. Bilott’s character portrays an important message to the audience—fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Although it may take time—in this case, years—perseverance and a good heart will always be rewarded.


Characterized as a thriller, it is only natural that “Dark Waters” would have some unnerving elements. The dark underlying tone and eerie visuals drastically add to the nitty-gritty feel of the film. Unnatural occurrences, disturbing images and spine-chilling scenes are essential to the story, emphasizing the secrecy and corruption happening behind the scenes at DuPont Chemical. Even from the very beginning, the inciting incident is the mysterious deaths of hundreds of cows. In addition, these peculiar happenings provide more of an insight into Bilott’s character, explaining why a seemingly simple environmental case consumes him with paranoia and obsession.  


After the film, audiences will leave with an unsettling feeling of suffering from the unsafe effects of PFOA. According to the film, the so-called “forever chemicals” have been linked to a variety of health issues, including cancer, high cholesterol, liver disease, thyroid disease and birth defects. PFOA is a chemical found in the blood of 99% of humans, also according to the film. 

While “Dark Waters” presents a real-life horror story, it also brings an important issue to light. It is a necessary adaption of the true story of Robert Bilott, who is a noteworthy hero of this generation. Thanks to his work, numerous health risks and the concealed acts of DuPont Chemical were exposed. In addition, scientists are now working to explore and test other unregulated chemicals that can be found worldwide.

Haynes’ “Dark Waters” intrigues viewers and powerfully reveals valuable information about major topics, while implementing a significant message that people from every walk of life can learn from.

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