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Genius (2016)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 10 June 2016 (USA)
1:56 | Trailer

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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.


Michael Grandage


John Logan (screenplay by), A. Scott Berg (based on the book 'Max Perkins: Editor of Genius' by)
4,809 ( 3)
1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Colin Firth ... Max Perkins
Jude Law ... Thomas Wolfe
Nicole Kidman ... Aline Bernstein
Laura Linney ... Louise Perkins
Guy Pearce ... F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dominic West ... Ernest Hemingway
Vanessa Kirby ... Zelda Fitzgerald
Gillian Hanna Gillian Hanna ... Julia Wolfe
Angela Ashton ... Bertha Perkins
Eve Bracken ... Zippy Perkins
Katya Watson Katya Watson ... Jane Perkins
Lorna Doherty Lorna Doherty ... Peggy Perkins
Makenna McBrierty Makenna McBrierty ... Nancy Perkins
Miquel Brown Miquel Brown ... Eleanor, Perkins' Maid
Corey Johnson ... John Wheelock


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 Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Max Perkins discovered Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But he never met anyone like Thomas Wolfe.


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and suggestive content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

10 June 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pasión por las letras See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$98,274, 12 June 2016, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,358,018, 12 August 2016

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,346,531, 4 August 2016
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


Color | Black and White (opening sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Colin Firth wears a hat in every one of his scenes, including those set indoors. The only time he uncovers his head is when he reads the letter from Thomas Wolfe Jude Law at the end of the film. See more »


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 »


[first lines]
John Wheelock: [throwing down a manuscript onto his desk] Might want to read this one.
Maxwell Evarts Perkins: Please tell me it's double-spaced.
John Wheelock: No such luck.
Maxwell Evarts Perkins: Where'd you get it?
John Wheelock: A woman named Aline Bernstein. The stage designer? The author's her protege. Every other publisher in town has already tuned it down.
Maxwell Evarts Perkins: Is it any good?
John Wheelock: Good? No. But it's unique.
Maxwell Evarts Perkins: A quick look.
John Wheelock: Thanks, Max. I'm in your debt.
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Flow Gently Sweet Afton
(Sottish traditional)
Composed by Jonathan E. Spillman
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User Reviews

Beautiful, but definitely for a niche audience
19 June 2016 | by DansLaLunaSee all my reviews

Colin Firth and Jude Law Portray editor Max Perkins and his newest client, Tomas Wolfe. Perkins is a tight wound package of seriousness, work being his life. Wolfe is a frenetic writer, eating up everything around him with voracity. The polar opposites take on Wolfe's first novel, "Look Homeward, Angel." I admit, Law's Wolfe is energizer- bunny out-of-control frenetic at times, but it's that kind of mind that gave us one of the greatest (if not the greatest) American novels of all time. Having read "Angel," I completely bought into it. The relationship between editor and writer becomes extremely close, at times casting aside the women in their lives. Laura Linney is Louise Perkins, devoted wife to Max and their 5 daughters. She is also trying to keep her own writing career alive, with little help from her work obsessed husband. Nicole Kidman is Aline Bernstein, a married woman currently shacking up with Wolfe. She was his inspiration in writing "Angel" and is over zealously jealous of Tom's relationship with Max. Like, seriously, wack-job crazy. This role was the weak link for me, didn't like her from her second appearance on screen. The movie moves through their lives, another published book, and on to Wolfe's untimely death. (I am pretty sure that isn't a spoiler.) I don't want to go in to the plot anymore, except to say that I agree with another reviewer about the scene in the jazz club. A really great way to show how minds, and the streaming of thought, can be so different between people.

The cinematography is beautiful, sepia tones bring you back to the years right before and during the depression. Extravagance and soup kitchens, back-to-back. The music bangs out with Wolfe's bombastic behavior, and mellows with Max.

This movie is a movie about writers and readers, for what editor isn't a closet writer? It's also for the same audience, with several nods to a few other greats of that period; Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but mostly, to Wolfe. When Max is reading "Angel" through for the first time, his daughter walks in. She looks at the page and says, "Wow, that's a really long paragraph" and Max answers "It started four pages ago..." THAT is Wolfe. That book was the most difficult book I have ever read. This movie is also about, who exactly is the genius? Wolfe is, obviously. But does that make Max, who edited, made these books marketable, and made Wolfe a celebrity of his day, any less of a genius? That is left for the viewer.

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