A heavily sepia-tinged film that seemed a lot more suited to be on the stage but showcased a phenomenal supporting performance by Nicole Kidman.
Theatrically directed by Michael Grandage, especially in its scene transitions and blocking, and from a screenplay by the talented John Logan - who is known to string words together into beautiful sentences - the film and its undoubtedly brilliant cast tried to make the mundane process of editing into something interesting. Unfortunately, beyond the frantic montages of paper flying and red pencil scribblings they largely failed. The most interesting aspect of the film was its exploration of its main characters which felt underserved, but it was also those moments that elevated the film.
As talented a wordsmith as Logan is, he seemed torn in deciding on who his main focus should be on. Grandage similarly. Is the story of Max Perkins? Or is it a biographical adaptation of the life of Thomas Wolfe? Or is it the main focus actually the bromance between these two?
It was an odd choice for Grandage and cinematographer Ben Davis (he of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe franchises) to shoot the whole film in sepia-tone. It definitely suited the mood and atmosphere of the times - which was gorgeous and beautifully recreated - but it also made the film feel heavier than it should.
Kidman gave a astounding performance - her best in ages! Although coming on screen occasionally as a supporting role, but her every appearance was raw with emotions. Clearly reminding us once again that she is an Actor, damn it!
Jude Law gave one the best performances of his career and he really is on the second wind of his career (like Hugh Grant). However, he did tend to veer occasionally into over-acting which is so hard to avoid in this sort of role.
Colin Firth pseudo-American diction was distracting, but he oozed an understated charm and a quite sort of magnetism that draws the audience in to his mood. Pity that his Max Perkin's stoic calm was underwritten and over-shadowed by Law's maniac Wolfe.
Then we have Laura Linney. Where have you been Linney? We missed you. Your effortless poise and strength anchored the film and was the true heart of the story.
Genius is a prestige film and it would have been a very good play. But can it rely sole on its pedigree and star power, despite the ho hum story telling, to push it forward towards Oscar/BAFTA glory? Especially since it is a film about a time in American history that is made by a largely British-Australian effort.