The biography that was this movie’s source material is called Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, about the literary publisher who worked with Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe. The movie reduces the title to one word, focuses almost exclusively on Perkins’ work with Wolfe, and is indeed more a biopic of Wolfe than of Perkins. Unsurprisingly, it falls short on both fronts, offering no insight into—or even evidence of—the genius of Wolfe (played by Jude Law in a jaunty North Carolina accent), nor of the most famous book editor of the 20th century (played by Colin Firth, also affecting Americanness). Still, shallow though it may be, Genius—adapted by John Logan (Gladiator), and the first film directing credit for acclaimed theater director Michael Grandage—tells a respectably engaging story, buoyed by Firth and Law’s charisma and a clear affection for the American literary giants of the 1920s and ’30s. Nicole Kidman spices things up as Wolfe’s jilted mistress; Laura Linney, alas, is underused as Perkins’ wife, present just enough to make you wish the film had explored their relationship more. It isn’t bad; it’s just profoundly mediocre.
Director: Michael Grandage
Producer: Michael Grandage, John Logan, James Bagley, A. Berg, Tim Bevan, Nik Bower, Arielle Madover and Deepak Nayar
Cast: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, Guy Pearce, Dominic West and Vanessa Kirby