Friday, October 3, 2008
Flash of Genius
Based on inventor Robert Kearns's life and his legal battle against the U.S. automobile industry, "Flash of Genius" (USA 2008, 119 min.) is a satisfying "Erin Brockovich" turning into courtroom drama with a strong performance by Greg Kinnear.
Professor Robert Kearns (Greg Kinnear) is a college professor living in Detroit with his wife and six young children in the 60s. On a raining day, his flash of genius stuck him. In his garage, he invented intermittent windshield wiper that is used by most cars today. However after auto-maker Ford obtained his invention, Ford refused to recognize Kearns's work. Despite everybody telling him that he could not win against a giant corporation by himself, Kearns determined to go on with his courageous battle, while paying a heavy price in his personal life.
Already, there are films, such as "Erin Brockovich," that tell a story about a small individual who take up against big corporations. Undoubtedly each story about these average Joes can be inspiring. However, to make a story like this compelling and keep the audience engaged can be a challenge. Although "Flash of Genius" does a fair job to tell a good story, yet gives us an impression that this could have been a movie made for television.
"Flash of Genius" almost entirely focuses on Robert Kearns's difficult, sometimes obsessed, almost life long fight to get his invention recognized and to get Ford to admit that they stole his invention. Therefore, Greg Kinnear's fine performance is crucial to the film's success. He creates a sympathetic character that is stubborn and vulnerable. Dr. Kearns is willing to sacrifice everything, even his family and his career, in order to get his invention recognized. The film does not show how he actually managed to become a counsel to represent himself in a court room, but by watching his determination during the battle, we already know that nothing can stop him if he decides to do it.
Labels: MVFF 2008