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Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Satisfying portrayal of literary legends has mature themes.

Movie PG-13 2016 104 minutes
Genius Poster Image

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Although this behind-the-scenes look at a legendary editor is too stage-like to be truly lasting as a film, Firth's performance as Perkins is particularly noteworthy. Playing Genius' central character, Firth does a fine job portraying the man who published some of the greatest authors of the 20th century. His is a recognizable tale of a company man who loves his job but also truly loves his wife and five (!) daughters. That Perkins comes to see the eccentric and verbose Wolfe as a son figure is painfully understandable.

Law, on the other hand, while doing a passable (if overdone) job with his North Carolinian accent, is definitely miscast as Thomas Wolfe (not to be confused with the Southern writer in the white suit, Tom Wolfe; he arrived on the literary scene decades later). Not only does Law not look anything like the writer, but his portrayal doesn't really humanize Wolfe; instead, it makes him the embodiment of the idea that artists should indulge in whatever narcissism is necessary to produce their art. Considering this is a truly American, the cast -- with the exception of Laura Linney as Max's wife -- is conspicuously, almost distractingly, English and Australian. (At least Guy Pearce and Dominic West are physically suited to playing Fitzgerald and Hemingway, respectively.) Despite the directorial flaws, the story itself is fascinating and well deserving of coverage in popular culture. One can only hope that movie-goers will want to read North Carolina's greatest author after seeing a movie about him.

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