Genius is a 2016 British-American biographical drama film directed by Michael Grandage and written by John Logan, based on the 1978 National Book Award-winner Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg. The film stars Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Dominic West and Guy Pearce. It was selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.
The story of Genius follows the story of American Southern writer Thomas Wolfe and his connections with New Yorker Maxwell Perkins, the publisher. Perkins had already previously published works by the great American writers Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The story also follows the almost “romantic” affair between Wolfe and Perkins.
“Though Michael Grandage’s dull, dun-colored “Genius” makes every effort to credit the editor’s role in shaping the century’s great novels, it’s nobody’s idea of interesting to watch someone wield his red pencil over the pile of pages that would become Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Homeward, Angel,” even if the editor in question is the great Maxwell Perkins. While the talent involved should draw smarthouse crowds, the result has all the life of a flower pressed between “Angel’s” pages 87 years ago.”
The insurmountable problem, however, is that the story engages only late in the game, once Tom has betrayed his father figure by revising his previous acknowledgment of the role Max played in molding his genius. But perhaps due to the anesthetizing effect of most of what’s come before, the central relationship lacks spark and the pathos remains muted. Even scenes that should burst with excitement, such as Tom loosening up sober Max in a Harlem jazz club, are like CPR on a lifeless body.”