First and foremost “Genius” is an excellent film with a performance by Jude Law, as writer Thomas Wolfe, that is a standout and better than many he has done in the past decade with a much quieter, but as strong a performance, by Colin Firth as Editor Maxwell Perkins.

It is not easy to have a movie featuring a writer but add an editor and you have a lot of scenes of writing, editing with a red pencil and voiceovers reading what the author has written. There are some scenes like these in the screenplay by John Logan, based on the biography of Perkins by A. Scott Berg, but they don’t distract from the temperamental differences between the two men and the results not only in their lives but what they brought to the world.

Near the beginning of the film Thomas Wolfe describes himself, at the same time describing the performance that Jude Law gives, as being flamboyant, loud, childish, full of self involvement and importance, a genius, and that is the man we see. On the other hand Maxwell Perkins is presented as a quiet, even tempered man who, it seems, never took his hat off!           The main thing they had in common was love of the written word with Wolfe known to write many words when few would be better and Perkins knowing how to get to that few.

Though not knowing how much of the film was “Hollywood imagined”, though a few scenes felt as if they were invented, by the end you will wonder if Wolfe or Perkins or both of them were the genius of the title.

While Laura Linney, as the wife of Maxwell Perkins, has a quiet role as the supportive wife and mother Nicole Kidman as Aline Bernstein, Wolfe’s companion, partner, lover and provider, steals a few scenes from both Law and Firth.

There are basically cameos from Guy Pearce as F. Scott Fitzgerald, an almost unrecognizable Dominic West as Ernest Hemmingway and a brief performance by Vanessa Kirby as Zelda Fitzgerald.

I must admit that though I knew of Thomas Wolfe as a writer, mainly from the play version of his first novel, “Look Homeward, Angel”, never having read the book and vaguely remember hearing about his bestseller “Of Time and the River” I now want to read both and I want to know more about the man and how close this film is to his real life.

I did know of Maxwell Perkins through the world of publishing and the editor of two of my books, Layde Sparks, always referred to herself as my Maxwell Perkins and this film also makes me want to read the book it is based on.

“Genius” is an excellent film not only for bringing two men everyone should know to life but also to see the performances by Jude Law, Peter Firth and Nicole Kidman. I hope they aren’t forgotten, especially Law, when award time comes along.

I very seldom talk about films that can be the downloaded from the Internet at the same time they can be seen in theatres but I want people to see this—though it is better on the big movie screen!



Posted June 17, 2016 by greatmartin in MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES, Uncategorized

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