First Hit: Strong acting and intense scenes made this film “Genius.”
I loved the intensity Jude Law put into defining Thomas Wolfe as a wildly imaginative and talkative man.
I’ve no idea how Wolfe actually was, but there was a believability in the constant flow of non-stop dialogue that really worked for me. His verbose and expressive nature supported the extremely large manuscripts he brought in to Max Perkins’ (Colin Firth) office.
Perkins who was editor for F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway was clearly the kind of person who could manage Wolfe. Imagine supporting this verbose author to edit down a five-thousand-page manuscript by cutting over 90,000 words into something both printable and readable.
Perkins, being very centered and with five daughters, found Wolfe both interesting and almost like his son. Wolfe was living with and being supported by Aline Bernstein (Nicole Kidman) who fed him and helped him in a muse type way all while she was producing plays. This film set in the late 1920s – mid 1930s, was well staged.
The sense and feel of Max’s office, the street scenes, and the view from Wolfe’s first apartment were spectacular and reflective of the times. The intense dinner with Perkins, his wife Louise (Laura Linney), Bernstein, and Wolfe was filled with forceful possessive dialogue and ended up defining all four characters.
Louise, a playwright on her own, being shunted aside while the jealous Bernstein and flamboyant self-serving Wolfe monopolizing the discussion and Max, as usual, being peacemaker. I fully bought into the script and thought the direction of the characters was superb.
Firth was fantastic. I loved that he wore a hat most of the time as it was very reflective of his style and the times. Law was intensely amazing. He had me believing the forceful and penetrating inner life Wolfe was leading. Kidman was perfect. I love how she can express so much in such a controlled way. Linney was sublime as Firth’s wife and keeper of their home while supportive of Max’s drama filled client’s lives. John Logan wrote an excellent screenplay. Michael Grandage did a wonderful job of keeping the film moving along and allowing the characters to breathe.
Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed the interplay of all the characters in this film.