thomas wolfe

FILM REVIEW: “Genius” doesn’t show any

A talented cast can't managed to bring this blandly written story of the literary collaboration between editor Max Perkins (Colin Firth) and novelist Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law) to life.

The biography from which “Genius” is adapted is called “Max Perkins: Editor of Genius” (by A. Scott Berg), and it’s about the literary publisher who worked with such legends as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe. How fascinating his life must have been — a non-artist intimately involved in fine-tuning works of art. Or maybe it’s fair to call him an artist, too. As the title suggests, he edited geniuses, but to do so effectively, he must have been a man of some genius himself.

That’s the book, though. The movie, adapted by John Logan (“Gladiator”) and helmed by acclaimed theater director Michael Grandage (his movie debut), 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) Wolfe’s brilliance, much less his editor’s. Whose story is it, Wolfe’s or Perkins’? Neither. And both. That’s the problem.


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