Flash of Genius (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/03/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

Enjoyable, emotionally engaging drama with a strong script and a great central performance from Greg Kinnear.

What's it all about?
Based on a true story, Flash of Genius stars Greg Kinnear as Detroit engineering professor Dr Robert Kearns, a father of six and a spare-time inventor, who hits upon the design for a windscreen wiper that cleans the glass at set intervals. Kearns takes his idea to his friend Gil (Dermot Mulroney), who has contacts in the car industry, and together they pitch the design to Ford honcho Macklin Tyler (Mitch Pileggi), only for the car giant to suddenly pull out of their agreement months later.

When Kearns later sees cars on the street with his windscreen wipers, he's understandably furious and determines to sue Ford for copyright infringement, despite everyone telling him it's a fight that he can't possibly win. There follows a bitter 20 year court battle, which takes an enormous toll on Kearns' personal life.

The Good
Kinnear excels at playing likeable, if occasionally flawed everyman types and he's on terrific form here, whether he's portraying Kearns' joy at his discovery, his devastation when he first sees the new wipers (a brilliant scene) or his heart-breaking nervous collapse. There's also strong support from Dermot Mulroney, Alan Alda (as a lawyer who takes Kearns' case) and Lauren Graham (as Kearns' wife, Phyllis), while Mitch Pileggi is suitably slimy as Tyler.

The script is excellent, particularly during the courtroom scenes, which are extremely suspenseful and also laugh-out-loud funny, especially when Kearns (acting as his own counsel) is forced to question himself (his opponent's response is also beautifully timed and perfectly delivered).

The Bad
That said, there are a few frustrating holes in the script (perhaps explained by close family involvement in the project), such as the background to Ford's decision or the more emotional details of Kearns and Phyllis' relationship, but they don't detract from the overall enjoyment of the film.

Worth seeing?
This is a well made, superbly written and emotionally engaging David vs Goliath drama with a terrific performance from Kinnear. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Flash of Genius (12A)
Flash of Genius has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 18/12/2017 03:07

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