Robert Kearns takes on the Detroit automakers who he claims stole his idea for the intermittent windshield wiper.Robert Kearns takes on the Detroit automakers who he claims stole his idea for the intermittent windshield wiper.Robert Kearns takes on the Detroit automakers who he claims stole his idea for the intermittent windshield wiper.
What is more astonishing is he was almost forgotten after the Ford Motor Company usurped the design and promoted it as its own. The dramatic tension is Kearns' fight for recognition involving years of personal and familial losses. The two moments of inspiration, the "flash of genius," one a personal eye injury and the other driving in the driving rain, are dramatically satisfying if not downright underplayed (appealing to my minimalist sensibilities).
The film is exciting when Kearns is developing the device with those design inspiration moments fleshed out and the partnering with Ford slowly materializing. The film slows down as if in a school zone when at least a third of the Kearns' time is spent struggling with wife Phyllis Kearns (Lauren Graham) over the cost to them in time and trauma to go after Ford. The dutiful wife suffering the ambitious husband has been played in American cinema and theater too much to be fresh, no different here. The scenes with family, especially his wife, evoke my usual response: All right, already, I get the point. Now get on to the good stuff.
Similarly, Kinnear plays Kearns so low key as to be soporific. Although I don't doubt Kearns was an introverted geek, a dramatic rendition would have enlivened the character without compromising his essence.
- Oct 4, 2008