When, one day in 1929, writer Thomas Wolfe decided to keep the appointment made by Max Perkins, editor at Scribner's, he had no illusions: his manuscript would be turned down as had invariably been the case. But, to his happy amazement, his novel, which was to become "Look Homeward, Angel," was accepted for publication. The only trouble was that it was overlong (by 300 pages) and had to be reduced. Although reluctant to see his poetic prose trimmed, Wolfe agreed and was helped by Perkins, who had become a true friend, with the result that it instantly became a favorite with the critics and a best seller. Success was even greater in 1935 when "Of Time and the River" appeared, but the fight for reducing Wolfe's logorrheic written expression had been even harder, with the novel originally at 5,000 pages. Perkins managed to cut 90,000 words from the book, and with bitterness ultimately taking its toll, the relationships between the two men gradually deteriorated. Wolfe did not feel ...Written by
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Maxwell Perkins tells Thomas Wolfe his book needs a new title that will appeal to potential purchasers, and gives the example of F. Scott Fitzgerald changing the title of a novel from "Trimalchio in West Egg" to "The Great Gatsby." The real Perkins, as Fitzgerald's editor, certainly would have known that "The Great Gatsby" was a flop upon its release in 1925 and did not sell well until the 1950s. See more »
"Genius" is the story of the great editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationship with Thomas Wolfe, author of Look Homeward Angel, You Can't Go Home Again, and other novels and stories.
One thing before I start - the IMDb message board has to be the only place where people ADMIT they've never heard of Thomas Wolfe, much less read anything he wrote. I'm not sure I would be so forthcoming with that info.
The cast is fantastic: Colin Firth as Perkins, Jude Law as Wolfe, Laura Linney as Mrs. Perkins, and Nicole Kidman as Aline Bernstein, who brings Wolfe's novel to Perkins in real life.
Perkins is shown as a hard-working man, working with people like Fitzgerald and Hemingway and trying to balance his work with family, which consists of a wife and five daughters. He reads Wolfe's 300,000+ word novel and realizes the man is great genius - he also writes too many words. When he talks to Wolfe, he realizes why - he talks too many words, too. He's unmarried and having an affair with stage designer Aline Bernstein. It's a turbulent relationship that lasts around five years.
His relationship with Perkins is turbulent too. At first Wolfe accepts Perkins' drastic cuts in his world; later on, he fights them. Nevertheless, Wolfe becomes a son to Perkins and Wolfe considers him his only friend.
Jude Law and Nicole Kidman are unrecognizable in makeup, hair, and accent, and they both do terrific jobs. Law is a bombastic, exuberant, undisciplined Wolfe; Firth, who actually looks more like Thomas Wolfe than Law, is always excellent. Here he plays a restrained man who allows room for the temperaments of his various writers and attempts to be the voice of reason.
Guy Pearce has a small role as F. Scott Fitzgerald. Something I read said he stole the movie. I love Guy Pearce, I would see him in anything (and have) but to me he wasn't Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was a sweet-looking man, also a weak and drunken one, and Pearce did not portray that. Probably he did what the script and director dictated.
I found this movie a good story that was not well-paced and on the talky side. I know today we're not used to movies with a lot of dialogue, but there's always room for sharp, witty dialogue as in "All About Eve," for instance. This didn't have enough of that kind of writing and became tedious and sagged in spots.
The end of the film is very touching. I recommend seeing this for the performances.
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