Is the writer the genius, or the genius the one who finds the greatness in the writer?
Every day in Chapel Hill, I would walk by a stone monument. On it was carved a quote from Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel, a book largely featured in this film. I could not tell you what it said, but I recalled its existence, the man’s impact lost on me.
This film centers around Wolfe’s relationship with legendary editor Max Perkins, Wolfe played by Jude Law and Perkins by Colin Firth. And Firth, as I have come to expect, gave a marvelously convincing portrayal. With so much as a frown, I could have looked him in the eyes and believed he was Perkins. As for Law, though, I could not help but see an actor raising hell and hoping I wouldn’t see the lack of truth in his eyes. The latter applies to Nicole Kidman, as well, as Wolfe’s mistress.
Still, though, the film resonated with me. As a writer, and as a fan of Max Perkins, I was expecting something. I was hoping that I might find a mere sliver of profundity from either’s mind, and I did. But like great lines of an endless debut novel, they were few and far between.
I did not dislike this film, and I doubt you will. And yet you may not love it, either. Like the work of Thomas Wolfe–like the man Thomas Wolfe–it may splash about in your memory, only to be forgotten when the surface stills.
Genius is playing in select theaters.