The first word is always the hardest.

Then comes the flow (if there is a flow) of words. Then the determination to make sense of the flow: to cut, stretch, control, order, prettify, and simplify all the words that give life to the creature growing inside the person who chose to take on one of the most capricious vocations in society: the writer.

Genius, the latest literary biopic to join the likes of Kill Your Darlings, Howl, and Sylvia, embodies the true business behind editing in Maxwell Perkins’ relationship with the larger-than-life Thomas Wolfe. There are multiple facets to this relationship: the surrogate father and lost son, a publisher and an author, the businessman and dreamer, and finally, the genius and the genius. This is a film that captures the gritty reality inside crisped book pages, so often forgotten behind the smooth cover jackets with glossy titles. Balanced out with intelligent punches and a subtle sense of comedic flair, Michael Grandage’s shots are (at times) obviously condensed in favour of the audience.

Read on for 55 more thoughts about the film (spoilers ahead):

  • Heavy rain, cigarettes, lots of cigarette butts
  • Jude Law is in the rain stomping his feet to the music and smoking
  • How does one smoke so much in the heavy rain
  • His wet curly hair is goals
  • Ok there’s the red pencil. Ok that’s a lot of red lines. Who wrote the article though
  • What is that shorthand symbol that looks like the sign for Pi
  • Colin Firth wearing is wearing a hat. I hope he ditches the hat


  • Grandiose shots of books – oh yeah so satisfying!!!!!
  • Hello Fitzgerald and Ernest!!!!
  • O lost in the thick stack of draft pages
  • Are the other train passengers aware that their ride only started after he boarded? Were they delayed? Who is Perkins and what is this power?? Unclear
  • Wiki-ed it. Publisher. I now understand the purpose of the book shots
  • A leaf, a stone, and many daughters
  • This is just like watching the living room scene in Sinister – except that none of the children are floating and dissipating in the air
  • Listening to Jude Law’s South American accent = cringe and move on
  • He sounds like he is constantly biting on a piece of hard cheese
  • $500 as an advance? Come on
  • Omg Nicole Kidman looks so good?! Did she get makeup tips from Eva Green because I am dying for that sharp eyebrows and full blood mouth look

  • She looks so much older than him
  • Wiki-ed. The real Aline Bernstein was 18 years older than Wolfe
  • Fast forwarded scenes of work yay
  • Guy Pearce as Fitzgerald? It’s like watching Vin Diesel play Beethoven
  • Is Aline just jealous of Wolfe or
  • Nope she’s just slightly unhinged. Kidman plays these kind of roles far too well
  • The great American novel, written by the man with tentacles in every pie
  • Ok but don’t ignore the wife of the man who’s paying you – and the mother of the girls you’re flirting with – at her dining table
  • How is it possible for one man to write 4 crates of manuscript
  • After 10 seconds of watching typewriters: “It has been 2 years since we started”
  • Who else agrees that it is slightly intense to see Firth “loosening up”?
  • The red pencil is back. Shit is going to go down
  • Kidman holding out her hand like “come play with us”
  • Omg Wolfe you do not just calm down a hysterical woman and then go back to your book. Crazy does not work like a water tap
  • The three words that break a writer: “It is done.” “Sent to printers.” “Stop adding words.”
  • Life would be so much easier if they had Telegram (the app)
  • Of course Hemingway must be portrayed in a white shirt doing something manly, awesome and slightly dangerous aka fishing


  • In the literary world where one can think too much about everything, book dedications are tombstones and only serve to preserve the end
  • Colin Firth to gun: (calmly) “Don’t shoot me I’m an asshole but I’m a professional asshole”
  • They look truly happy to be back in each other’s arms
  • Rooftop scene, sunset, head resting on shoulder awwwww
  • Can we just end the movie here because I like this ending (it’s happy)
  • She looked for someone like she was looking for a fight
  • Mr Wolfe, you can’t just go crawling back to the girl once you’re done with your pencil
  • The great question of the literary epoch: did the publisher make the book better or make the book new?
  • Fitzgerald’s house is straight out of


  • When there is an overwhelming shot of the beach, one wonders if it is a metaphor for something darkly (ref: Plath and her obsession with sandflies)
  • What a predictable ending: Wolfe looks out to the ocean with a smile on his face, forgiveness in his mind, he and Perkins will be friends forever, he will be less of an arrogant asshole, but first the movie will cut to black so that we can immortalise this magnanimous moment
  • What the
  • What the fuck
  • What the
  • A letter arrives
  • Tearing up
  • Actually crying because I hate the world now
  • I can never write again because the world betrays the beautiful and able, and if I write, it would mean that I support the world’s doing
  • A well of sentences, paragraphs, stories is forever lost
  • Thomas Wolfe, words can never thank you enough.


Genius will be in theatres from 25 August 2016.

Directed by: Michael Grandage
Genre: Biography, Drama, Literary
Running time: 104 minutes
Rating: 4/5