Literary editors can either be the bane of existence or much-beloved mentors to writers that they work with. “Genius” is the story of a famous editor-writer partnership between Maxwell Perkins and Thomas Wolfe. Starring Colin Firth as Perkins and Jude Law as Wolfe, the movie chronicles their meeting and their working relationship beginning in 1929.
Perkins was a well-established editor at Charles Scribner & Sons. He was responsible for the success of, among others, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Wolfe’s first novel, “Look Homeward, Angel” had been turned down by almost all the big publishing houses, but Perkins saw in it what others did not. The challenge facing Perkins was getting Wolfe to edit his more than one-thousand page opus. Wolfe fought to include every single word. It is only through Perkins’ relentless prodding that Wolfe relents. As they continue to work together, this pattern continues.
The movie is a factual representation of the events depicted. Nicole Kidman as Wolfe’s married lover and Laura Linney as Perkins’ wife are strong supporting players. I really enjoyed “Genius.” My only reservation is that a younger actor should have played the role of Wolfe, who is in his late twenties when the story begins. As to who is the “genius” of the title, I guess that is open to the viewer’s opinion.