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Drama . Biography

New York in the 1920s. Max Perkins, literary editor at Scribner’s Sons is the first to sign such subsequent literary greats as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. When a sprawling, chaotic 1,000-page manuscript by an unknown writer named Thomas Wolfe falls into his hands, Perkins is convinced he has discovered a literary genius. Together the two men set out to work on a version for publication and a seemingly endless struggle over every single phrase ensues. During this process, Perkins the gentle family man and Wolfe the eccentric author become close – a relationship eyed with suspicion by their wives. When ‘Look Homeward, Angel’ becomes a resounding success, the writer grows increasingly paranoid.

Actors: Demetri Goritsas , Vanessa Kirby , Dominic West , Guy Pearce , Laura Linney , Nicole Kidman , Colin Firth , Jude Law
Directors: Michael Grandage
Country: UK , USA
Release: 2016-06-10
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  • Richard Roeper

    Even as I was rolling my eyes, I was digging just about every stylized visual flourish, every big performance, every overly dramatic confrontation featuring first-rate actors letting loose with unabashed gusto and veracity, even when they were bellowing lines stating the obvious.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Rex Reed

    Colin Firth is brilliant as the patient, uncompromising and introspective Max Perkins, and the explosive performance by Jude Law as the wild, unpredictable and tragic Thomas Wolfe is one of the greatest triumphs of his career. I was spellbound.

    New York Observer Full Review
  • Glenn Kenny

    I’m not the only one who was at least slightly taken aback, though, by a persistent quirk in the movie’s casting, which is that not one of the Lions of American Literature in this picture was played by, well, an American. Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    For those interested in this rich period in American literature, it’s a treat.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Oleg Ivanov

    It makes a convincing argument for viewing Thomas Wolfe's work as a product of the excess and exuberance of the 1920s.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    Genius may be a bit stodgy and safe, but it tells a story of beauty — as it plays out in an improbably fruitful friendship, and as it’s discovered within vast expanses of raw language by a craftsman who was arguably an artist in his own right.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Jessica Kiang

    Your mileage will vary on Genius, depending on where you place Law’s performance on the irritating/entertaining spectrum and your tolerance for somewhat formulaic tales of creative ego and “The Price of Fame.”

    The Playlist Full Review
  • Bob Mondello

    Director Michael Grandage hails from the stage. So does screenwriter John Logan, so where films about writers are often filled with raised eyebrows rather than raised voices, these guys actively encourage grand gestures. Like the characters, they are intoxicated — not just by jazz or bootleg liquor, but by words.

    NPR Full Review
  • Kimberley Jones

    When it’s Law reading aloud in his awful cornpone accent, it sounds like curdled grits. But when Firth narrates, low and measured, the prose springs to life. I wouldn’t call Genius inspired, but not for nothing it inspired me to pick up "Look Homeward, Angel" for the first time.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Alex McCown

    Genius may eventually be a little too comfortable with its own formula (unsurprising, considering its full-throated endorsement of Perkins’ traditionalist mien), but in its early going, it captures a little bit of the magic of artistic creation.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Tirdad Derakhshani

    Well-written, gorgeously shot, and expertly edited, the film is also an exasperating exercise in good intentions gone wrong. For all its strengths, Genius often trades in tiresome clichés.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Tom Russo

    The film is surprisingly light on conflict and definitely goes a bit heavy on period bromantic bonhomie. Even so, it’s an intriguing study of the personalities and torturous process behind some of the early 20th century’s great writing.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    Genius does a pretty good job of capturing the peculiar drama of the relationship between editors and writers, in this case some of the most revered in American letters.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    If you’re a literature junkie, and I cringe at typing the phrase because it sounds so quaint in a world of 140-character expressions of self, then the film has its fascinating moments. The performances aren’t really among them.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Marsha Lederman

    Not nearly as smart as it should be.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Moira Macdonald

    You wish Perkins would have shown up with his red pencil during the screenwriting stage, when he might have done some good.

    The Seattle Times Full Review
  • Calvin Wilson

    Genius, like most films about the literary life, has trouble dramatizing what’s involved and making us care.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    Neat and tidy and well-mannered and dull, and not even Colin Firth and Jude Law and Laura Linney and Nicole Kidman and some very sharp fedoras can enliven it.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    My worst fears were confirmed almost from the start. In order to inject some pep into the proceedings, Law has been encouraged to play Wolfe as a motormouthed rhapsodist who seems less inspired than unhinged. He’s exhaustingly exuberant.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Justin Chang

    If Genius is a failure — and by the generally unilluminating standards of most mainstream movies about the creative process, I’m not entirely sure that it is — it succeeds in being a noble, even charming one.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Leah Greenblatt

    The movie — dutifully shot in shades of old-timey sepia — does get better as its staginess falls away, but far too much drama stays on the page.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • A.O. Scott

    It’s dispiriting to see a movie about interesting real-life characters reduce them to clichés, making them less vivid, less fascinating, less charismatic than they must have been.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Lou Lumenick

    Jude Law gives arguably the worst performance of his career as Wolfe in Genius, the ham-fisted directing debut of noted British theater figure Michael Grandage, bombastically adapted by John Logan (“Gladiator’’) from a biography by A. Scott Berg.

    New York Post Full Review
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