Friday, August 11th, 2017



The genius that the title of this new biopic refers too is the legendary American writer of the early 20th Century Thomas Wolfe who published four lengthy major novels before he died tragically at the age of 38. The movie starts at the point where his yet unpublished first book has been rejected by almost every publisher in New York before it ends up on the desk of Scribner’s most senior editor Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth). It found its way there as a favor to Alice Bernstein (Nicole Kidman) a older wealthy costume designer who had left her husband to become Wolfe’s lover and ‘patron’.

Perkins’s current coterie includes the likes of Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pierce) and Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West) ….. and in fact in an opening scene he is somewhat dramatically vigorously putting his red pen though one of their works as if he was a 9th grade high schoolteacher marking papers and not editing a probable masterpiece. Perkins is not only very impressed with the fact that something quite extraordinary has now landed on his desk, but he also becomes just as completely enamored with it’s unruly author (played by Jude Law).

With very hard work and long hours Perkins manages to tame the massive tome and shape it into a bestseller, but fails to have the same impact with its self-absorbed and socially embarrassing writer. Nevertheless the larger-than-life Wolfe worms his way into not just the affections of Perkins but also of his wife (Laura Linney) and their five daughters, all much to the disdain of the very jealous and melodramatic Bernstein who rightly feels that she has been just used and now dumped by Wolfe.

After Wolfe is praised as the new toast of the literary world, he delivers the draft of his second novel to Perkins in four enormous crates as he has written something like eighty chapters. The two men commit themselves into editing it together into a publishable condition which ends up taking were accompanied by a rather frenetic soundtrack as were accompanied by a rather frenetic soundtrack as neglecting everything and everybody else including Perkins wife and family too

This second novel is another major success, however at the same time Wolfe ensures that the rest of his life is not and now he has not only just dumped Bernstein who keeps threaten to kill herself, he has insulted Scott Fitzgerald, and finally gone too far with Perkins that even he would not tolerate his boorish behavior any longer.

The film itself is not a genius piece of work, and is rather a disappointing mish mash of a movie that fails to engage because it tries far to hard. A story about a book editor in itself is as about as exciting as an unknown Indian maths genius (The Man Who Knew Infinity) and we know how that recently failed to ignite at the Box Office. Having Michael Grandage an Award-Winning Stage Director helm the picture as his debut feature was not a good idea, especially as he tried to make it all more exciting with Law’s exhausting over-the-top and somewhat hammy performance which never let up for one single scene. All the passages of the book that were narrated and the rather monotonous and repetitive scenes of the two men constantly editing were accompanied by a rather frenetic soundtrack which was irritating to say the least.

Firth played it straight and completely emotionless until the final scene when there are tears streaming down his cheek suddenly suggesting that he may have wanted more than a bromance from his protege. Kidman got to camp her role up to the nines and even got to deliver such gems of lines such as ‘I don’t exist anymore. I’ve been edited’ which left Perkins speechless and the audience laughing.

The oddest thing was that this story of one of America’s greatest writer only had a solitary American on board …..Laura Linney ….amongst a whole coterie of Brits and Aussies, who with the exception of Law, simply couldn’t maintain the same accent throughout the movie.

If you are a fan of Wolfe you will probably want to steer clear of this disappointing movie, and if you have never read any of his work, then this will certainly not encourage you to want to start.


Posted by queerguru  at  18:54


Genres:  drama

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