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Genius - Review

pepper - august 17

 
 
DO EDITORS MAKE BOOKS BETTER or do they make them different?
 
Directed by Michael Grandage, one of our top theatre directors, Genius claims to be the true story, by Scott Berg, of an aspiring writer and his publisher in 1930s New York City. It draws us into the world of words with mostly still, fixed camera work, soft sombre colours, sweeping music and a little too much dialogue, which sets the scene for the real life inspired story of one of Scribner’s greatest literary editors.
 
Unfortunately, some fact-checking has been missed and the film’s languid style and verbose screenplay means it plateaus and promises little return for our persistence in watching it through to the end.
 
The set up establishes Jude Law as the larger than life bohemian writer, Thomas I-never-know-when-to-stop-do-I Wolfe, married to Elaine (Nicole Kidman), his theatre designer wife.
 
The younger, passionate Wolfe tells his editor, Max Perkins (Colin Firth), "My heart bleeds to see any of it go." He speaks animatedly about everything; his very lengthy book is about "America - all of it". 
 
In a household of women - five daughters and wife, Louise, also a writer (Laura Linney, a superb performance) - Wolfe announces that a play is an "anaemic form" of writing, silencing her and the impressionable young women at the dinner table.
 
Perkins is an upright though emotionally unavailable father and husband, so involved is he in his work. The foundation of an unlikely friendship is established from the outset and the story doesn’t progress far beyond this. 
 
Under utilised are Guy Pearce as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dominic West as Ernest Hemingway.
 
Genius will interest writers and lovers of great literature, but it’s not for action fans and it doesn’t do justice to the original detailed story.
 
words xanthe coward
 
Watch the trailer here.