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Genius (2016)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 10 June 2016 (USA)
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In theaters June 10.

A chronicle of Max Perkins's time as the book editor at Scribner, where he oversaw works by Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others.

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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A chronicle of Max Perkins's time as the book editor at Scribner, where he oversaw works by Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others.

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Biography | Drama

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Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and suggestive content
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10 June 2016 (USA)  »

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Michael Fassbender was cast as Thomas Wolfe but after the film was delayed, it caused scheduling conflicts and Fassbender dropped out. Jude Law later replaced him. See more »

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User Reviews

 
The picture was Okay, but better, Read the Book(s)
24 February 2016 | by (United States, Europe) – See all my reviews

Berlin 66 Reviews By Alex Deleon GENIUS, Competition, World Premiere. A Throwstone Product. image1.jpeg Max Perkins and Tom Wolfe checking his MMS intently in "GENIUS"

"Genius" Stars Jude Law as genius novelist Thomas Wolfe and an austere Colin Firth who never took hat off until the final scene. Sepia tone photography and meticulous period reconstruction with streets full of proper vintage cars starts out promisingly. New York, 1929. Scribners publishing Co. Thomas Wolfe played by Jude Law as a frenetic young writer from the sticks of north Carolina arrives in The Big City carrying the bound reams of his first novel and brashly forces his way into the publishers office. The editor is quick to realize that he has a raw genius on his hands. This soon turns into a tale of an adoptive father and son relationship between editor Max Perkins (Firth) and the obstreperous genius Thomas Wolfe (Law) -- Colin lives in big manse out on the Island. Wolfe comes to visit. Daughters find him charming and entertaining at dinner. Gracious wife was Laura Linney. Everyone else finds Wolfe a crashing self-centered bore.

At work Perkins does not just correct spelling and red-line bits of writing here and there, but does massive restructuring on Wolfe's mounds of hand written manuscripts -- removing hundreds of irrelevant pages to produce finely honed best sellers. He recognizes Wolfe's genius immediately, but also his excessive verbosity and the need to compact the brilliant prose to make it publishable. The first novel, "Look Homeward Angel" (so renamed by Perkins) is a big hit and runaway best seller. Wolfe is an overnight literary sensation and celebrity. Perkins' wife patiently suffers his constant absence from home to work on the editing of the novels. Wolfe's behavior is outrageous (over the top performance by Jude Law with passable southern accent. ) and generally offensive to everybody within his reach. One wonders if the real Thomas Wolfe was such a rake and so ready to run roughshod over peoples feelings. Colin Firth plays Perkins as a close to the chest taciturn dignified father figure in contrast to Law's raving wild man image. In a way this is a tale of cooperative genius, because without the backup brilliance of Perkins' editing insight Wolfe might never have gotten published. Both were workaholics totally dedicated to their respective crafts -- geniuses in their own way.

Altogether this is a film that will probably satisfy fans of the magnificent writing of Thomas Wolfe (such as Yours Truly) -- but it gets far too wordy in the sections where long excerpts of Wolfe's scintillating prose are Quoted verbatim on screen to the point where the viewer is tempted to scream: "Alright already. I'll read the book later!" Interesting sub plot involves Wolfe meeting his Main rival for the title of top literary genius of the century, F. Scott Fitzgerald, played by Aussie actor Guy Pearce. Nicole Kidman is unrecognizable under an austere black wig as family friend Aline Bernstein and contributes little other than occasional abrasive nagging. Towards the end after a misunderstanding an ingrate Wolfe sells himself to a rival publisher to the dismay of all, especially Perkins who feels egregiously double-crossed. Very heavy atmosphere until Wolfe suddenly dies of Cerebral Tuberculosis at the height of his career, not yet 38. The sense of his impending doom is in the air as the film progresses to a crushing end. Odd that British theater director Michael Grandage chose to cast all English and Aussie actors in the principle roles of such a totally American tale. Sort of like asking Leonardo Dicaprio to play Charles Dickens with an all-American backup cast. I myself happen to be a big fan of the writing of Thomas Wolfe so I was captivated all the way, but the morning press gathering in the Big Hall accorded the picture no more than a slight round of polite applause. I cannot imagine that the general public will be much more enthusiastic.

Alex, Berlin


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