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Starring: Greg Kinnear, Dermot Mulroney, Lauren Graham, Mitch Pileggi

Director: Marc Abrahams

Writers: Philip Railsback, John Seabrook

Cinematography: Dante Spinotti

Original Music: Aaron Zigman

Running Time: 119 Mins.

 Some films are very hard to categorise, but many are even harder, you would imagine, to advertise to a mass audience. It is not hard to see why the marketing bods behing Flash of Genius don’t quite know where to pitch, or indeed whom to pitch it too. Yes it has elements of a man obsessed, yes it is an enduring court-room drama and yes it does have soemthing to say about family, and the strain of work on relationships. However it doesn’t quite focus in on any one, in fact it melds all of these elements together so well that you really feel aas if you are seeing something fresh and new.

The ‘based on true events’ story is far from a new one, from Bronson through to Marley & Me, many films lately have conspired to sell themselves with this fact on their sleeve, though very few can convey the sense of real that Flash of Genius manages. Concerning the life of Robert Kearns, creator of the ‘blinking eye windscreen wiper’ we follow Bob from inception to selling the product to Ford to then be well and truly shafted by the motor company who claim his idea as their own. Bob cannot handle this and despite the ever increasing offers of money from Ford to keep schtum over the course of the film Bob seeks only one thing, the truth, and for all to know it.

Now if you can’t guess or dont know the outcome here clearly you have been under a rock for the past 50 years, suffice to say Bob manages to finally take the company to court and (as all real life under dogs should) defends himself fighting his own case to the bittersweet end. Though that is the beauty of  Flash of Genius for as predictable as it may be it is never anything less than entertaining making you fully invest in Bob’s plight, and whilst he is far from likeable at times (he drags his family through hell in his quest for the truth) he always pulls you empathise with him  in the end, this is testament solely to Kinnear’s performance.

Long living in the shadow of other much more showy performers (see Pierce Brosnan in The Matador or Steve Carrell et al in Little Miss Sunshine) Kinnear here is once again understaded and never overacts as many you may suspect would have, even in the face of madness he manages to keep it within the bounds of realism and away from melodramatics. Bcking up Kinnear is Alan Alda who is typically upstanding as a lawyer and the oft unnoticed presence of Dermot Mulroney who as with Ninnear has never found that one breakout role to display his ample personality and talents.

First time director Marc Abraham marks himself out as one to watch and manages to make scenes of windscreen wipers somehow beautiful in their simplicity, rain lashing down as the pitch perfect score evokes a warm feeling that is on the right side of mawkish, it’s a great shame that more people won’t seek out this heart warming tale of windcreen wipers!

VERDICT 

Flash of Genius is far from genius, but is undoubtedly better than most films on release at the moment, it’s just a shame windscreen-wipers inventors aren’t as easy a sell as fat mall cops! Greg Kinnear continues on his ascent of character roles and the mish mash of styles makes this one film that is all the better for not being able to be pigeon-holed.

grade-c3

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