Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
Writers are some of the most interesting people on the planet. But before a novel gets published it goes through the book editor. Those book editors are often forgot about when devouring a novel. But in the Film Genius it’s the book editor and his relationship with an author that’s centre stage.
The Film follows book editor Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth), who discovered F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, and his complex personal and professional relationship with literary giant Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law). It’s a Film about their complex relationship and more. It’s about the role of a Book Editor and the question of if they suppress Writers’ messages or actually better the Novel.
The casting for the leads are perfect. Firth and Law complement each other perfectly. Firth plays Perkins strong and deadpan. It’s hard to know what Perkins is thinking. Yet Law plays Wolfe enigmatic and expressive. All you see is his Wolfe’s every emotion. Because the film focuses solely on the complex friendship between the two literary legends, the supporting roles feel small and under-developed. Despite this Nicole Kidman, playing Wolfe’s wife, and Laura Linney, playing Perkins wife, still make their characters intriguing.
First-time Film Director Michael Grandage shoots the Film in old-time sepia which drops audience right into the 1920s setting. But Grandage, who comes from a theatre directing background, Films Genius as a play instead of a Film. Every scene is staged perfectly for the stage and not the screen. Even though the Film is under the two-hour mark it feels a little longer than needed.
Genius is the Film to see for its wonderful performances from Firth, Law, Kidman and Linney. But the script and direction would have been better suited for the stage rather than the screen.
Elevation Pictures release GENIUS Friday, June 17, 2016.