Johnny Depp is using his star power to bring awareness to a little-discussed tragedy in history, but he's doing so through a movie that renders him nearly unrecognizable. The film Minamata just premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, and early reviews are now out.
Minamata is set in the 1970s, starring Johnny Depp as real-life reclusive war photographer W. Eugene Smith, who shined a light on the deadly mercury poisoning by a powerful corporation in the fishing village of Minamata in Japan.
The Minamata movie covers Smith's documentation of the Minamata disease scandal. Since the film just premiered, there are only a few reviews up at this point. The results seem mixed on the film itself, but there's plenty of praise for Johnny Depp's eccentric performance.
The Guardian's 3-star review by Peter Bradshaw pointed out some clichés in the storytelling but praised the worthwhile story:
THR's Deborah Young singled out Johnny Depp's performance several times but also mentioned the genre clichés in use:
But again, THR had praise for Johnny Depp's charismatic performance:
Variety's Peter Debruge also noted Johnny Depp's "unrecognizable" transformation and compared his performance to his role in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
The Independent UK's 2-star review had praise for Johnny Depp, but writer Geoffrey Macnab also felt like the director should've reined him in a bit:
Here's the full synopsis for Minamata from the Berlin film festival site:
At the Minamata press conference in Berlin, Johnny Depp said (via Variety) he had a "strange fascination" with W. Eugene Smith and his photography, which was enhanced when he "read a bit about his life and what he’d gone through, what he’d experienced, what he’d sacrificed to capture those moments, to capture those photos." Depp said the Minamata scandal was "a story that needed to be told" and he wanted to "harness the power of media or cinema or art and use it to open people’s eyes."
Speaking of using media to open people's eyes, Johnny Depp's team just made a public move in his ongoing legal fight with ex-wife Amber Heard, which is tied to his role in Pirates of the Caribbean. That trial is currently scheduled for late summer.
Check out HanWay Films' official poster for Minamata, which was released shortly before the film's premiere:
It's not clear yet when Minamata might be released in the U.S., either in theaters or for home release, but stay tuned. Johnny Depp is also expected to return to start filming Fantastic Beasts 3 pretty soon.
Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.
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