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Genius

Jude Law plays Thomas Wolfe and Colin Firth plays his editor, friend, and opponent Maxwell Perkins who forces Wolfe to radically shorten his meandering master piece „Look Homeward, Angel“ and thus helps him towards success.

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15 years ago, decades after the author’s death, an unabridged manuscript called “O Lost” was published. The edited form of it is known as “Look Homeward, Angel” and is considered to be Thomas Wolfe’s masterpiece and one of the most important novels of the 20th century. GENIUS, director Michael Grandage’s debut, revolves around the genesis of this work. The question of who is the genius here remains open: the obvious answer would be Thomas Wolfe, playing by Jude Law with unbridled energy that mirrors the endless stream of words that filled pages upon pages which were rejected by numerous publishers until Maxwell Perkins entered the scene. Perkins (Colin Firth) was working at the New York publishing company Scribner in the 20s and had already discovered, sponsored, and introduced the world to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway when he got his hands on “O Lost.” He’s thrilled by Wolfe’s virile prose and pushes the author to radically edit his manuscript – and helps him become a sensation. Is Maxwell, who made Wolfe live up to his potential, the genius? This is the looming question in the film, which uses some artistic license in its depiction on the friendship between Wolfe and Perkins and most of all to showcase the power of literature. The matter of who is responsible for making “Look Homeward, Angel” is unimportant at the end of the day, what remains is a breathtaking, powerful book. The love of literature is very present in GENIUS. Whether you will reach for the edited or the unabridged version of the book after the film might depend on whether you prefer the extroverted Jude Law or the introverted Colin Firth. A difficult decision.

Michael Meyns

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Großbritannien/USA 2016, 104 min
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Michael Grandage
Author: John Logan
DOP: Ben Davis
Montage: Chris Dickens
Music: Adam Cork
Distributor: Wild Bunch Germany
Cast: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman
FSK: 6
Release: 11.08.2016

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