It’s official: Hollywood is out of white men to make biopics about. That’s the only conclusion I can draw after watching the trailer for Genius about writer Thomas Wolfe and his editor Maxwell Perkins. You know, those two huge literary stars who people still talk about today.
Oh, actually you can’t name anything Wolfe ever wrote? That’s fair. I had to double check to make sure I knew who I was talking about even after watching the trailer. In fact, I had briefly confused him with Thomas Hardy (not that one), and had flashbacks to college and Jude the
Unreadable Obscure. But surely lack of present day fame isn’t a good reason to prevent someone from making a movie on a subject. Alan Turing is barely known today, and he’s clearly deserving of well-crafted telling of his life. One I hope someone gets around to making soon.
So maybe Wolf and Perkins had such an unusually dynamic relationship that it deserves a movie. Or maybe this movie will be told in such an interesting way as to shed light on the actual writing and editing process. Maybe instead of the same cliched tropes about being an artist, the inclusion on an editor will ground the creative process in the everyday ins-and-outs of turning art into a career.
Nope, same bullshit. The brilliant but self-destructive artist, the visionary businessman who knows he’s sacrificing too much but has to see it through, the peripheral women who just have to put up with these dudes being assholes. The. Same. Bullshit.
And to an extent, I understand it. Humans are wired to respond to the same emotional beats. It’s why computers can tell us which pop songs will be most popular, and I’m guessing why One Direction has begun moving into the cyborg stage of their career. But you need to hit those same emotional beats well preferably with at least one new element of interest. Genius as far as I can tell doesn’t do either of those. Oh, and as a side note, Jude Law, they don’t pay you twice just because you do twice as much acting. Maybe turn it down a little.
The thing that I really can’t figure out though is how this movie assembled this cast. Maybe not so much Jude Law, but the other leads? Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Laura Goddamn Linney? Why would Linney agree to take the role of Wife-Who-Reminds-Genius-He’s-Got-Kids-And-Shit-Too? Why are they relegated to playing second-string to Law and Firth’s Great Bromance Of The Early 20th Century? In fact, in a movie with two remarkable actresses and 1.25 remarkable actors, why the hell aren’t the women the leads? There’s either a better story to tell or a better way to tell this story. But either way, let’s hope that the One Brilliant, Tortured White Guy for One Oscar exchange has finally been closed.