Genius ⭐️⭐️½

While John Logan’s script centres on the relationship between hot, new writer Thomas Wolfe and Max Perkins, editor of authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway; I cannot help but wish we see more of Fitzgerald and Hemingway who only make brief appearances in the film. The other hurdle it has to tackle is how do you make editing and rewriting a book sexy and exciting to watch on the big screen. For this film, the answer seems to be lengthy voiceovers against a tastefully shot backdrop of New York and the occasion verbal sparring between our leads. This approach may work (especially when they spar) but more often feels like watching an audiobook. The performances thus are crucial here and while Colin Firth (as Perkins) is a bundle of repressed energy that occasionally lit up (no stretch there for him), Jude Law borders on the frantic as Wolfe. It is showy and not unlikeable but it can feel rather exhausting too, and even perplexing by the end, as the film paints him as a one-note enigma. First time director (but theatre veteran) Michael Grandage has the eye but perhaps not the flair to make the nobly subdued script works on a more accessible and engaging level. For a film that’s toploaded with so many Award nominees and winners in front and behind the scene (Laura Linney’s is more of a cameo while Nicole Kidman shines in the few scenes she has), and as prettily and elegantly shot as this is, it is ultimately underwhelming that what we got is a dramatically flat film.

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