Genius (2016)

A fascinating story of a famous writer’s struggles to get his books published.

Genius (2016)

Cast: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, Guy Pearce
Director: Michael Grandage
Studio: Summit/ Lionsgate (9/6/16)
Video: 2.39:1 for 16:9 screens, color
Audio: English DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Extras: “Genesis of Genius,” “Painting a Portrait of the Lost Generation”
Length: 98 min.
Rating: *****

This film chronicles the NYC 1930s’ lifestyle and the chaotic relationship between the great North Carolina author Thomas Wolfe and his editor at Scribiner – Maxwell Perkins. Their friendship goes thru many phases as they work tirelessly on editing down the lengthy and verbose handwritten manuscripts of Wolfe. Wolfe’s wife is also a major fixture in the rocky relationships, and she seems to understand what is happening between her husband and the editor better than either of them do.

It’s quite amazing that the filmmakers were able to somehow make it interesting to watch what an editor does.  [I’m so glad I don’t have  those length problems with any of my writers… Ed.] Firth, as the editor, always keeps his hat on, until the very end when he reads the final letter Wolfe has sent him before he dies of brain tumors. There are also scenes with famous other writers at Scribiner’s such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

Perkins is a reserved and low-key sort of guy, and Wolfe, especially at the start, is a volatile mix of talent and vainness. Perkins sees the brilliance in Wolfe’s writing and wants to publish him, but success clearly goes to Wolfe’s head in many ways. The struggles of all the characters seem very plausible and believable. This film is a masterpiece.

The quality of DVDs has become so good that it is often almost indistinguishable from the Blu-ray versions.

—John Sunier

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