Wednesday, June 22, 2016


GENIUS presents a conundrum: How can I not appreciate and even love a film that's all about the love of books and writing? And yet, how can I appreciate let alone love a film that casts (is this trend never going to end?) Brit and Aussie actors in roles that are quintessentially "American"?

The subject matter is the relationship between editor Maxwell Perkins (thought to be responsible for much of F. Scott Fitzgerald's and Ernest Hemingway's reputations as geniuses) and the writer he edited the most (as in: cut) Thomas Wolfe.

Wolfe was said to have been a giant of a Southern man, so naturally Jude Law plays him, and does a great job making him a giant of a personality, at times lyrically brilliant but too often obnoxious. And Colin Firth plays Maxwell as a gloomy gus obsessed with words on the page at the expense of his family life.

Both are terrific actors and usually fun to watch on screen, as they are often in GENIUS, despite their accents, especially Law's, wandering. In another crucial role Nicole Kidman plays an American "Jewess" (as the character is called) supposedly much older than Law's Wolfe! Fortunately Guy Pearce only has a few scenes as Fitzgerald, and does a decent if totally inappropriately cast job.

In the end, I loved the subject of the film, and some of the artistry of all involved, even when it was to the detriment of the story and film. I'm glad I saw it and hope it sells some tickets so other movies about we who love the written word will be financed and made. But if those are about "Anericans" is it possible to find actors from the USA to play them?

[PS: Laura Linney was the only one perfectly cast, and she did her usual great job as Maxwell's long suffering wife in an otherwise thankless role]

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