Flash of Genius (2008) Dir. Marc Abraham

flash of geniusWhat would you do if somebody took credit for your greatest invention? In this charming movie Marc Abraham and Greg Kinnear gives you an inspirational guide what to do in such a situation.

The movie tells a story of Bob Kearns (Greg Kinnear), a college professor and an inventor, who is famous for his intermittent windshield wipers. He is a bright, creative man, who comes up with a brilliant idea: windshield wipers with an adjustable delay between wipes. However, when he presents his groundbreaking invention to the Ford company, it is stolen from him – Ford claims they have been working on it for quite some time. The story shows how Kearns starts a long and tiring war with a huge corporation, a war that has many won and lost battles, a war that costs him his marriage, but a war he finally wins.

The acting is incredible. First, we have Greg Kinnear, who is touching, honest and amazingly emotional. Besides, his acting strikes me as very mature. Then, there is Lauren Graham as Phyllis Kearns, Bob’s wife. This actress is always gorgeous and charming. Morevoer, she seems like she has been made for playing in the 60’s/70’s-stylized movies. Besides them, most of the actors are convincing; just to name a few: Dermot Mulroney (Bob’s friend and a tough businessman, Gil Privick), Tim Kelleher (Charlie Defao, a guy who comes with an offer you can’t refuse) and Mitch Pileggi (Macklin Tyler, a virtually dehumanized Ford executive). This mixture of different actors and different personalities makes the picture even more interesting.

What I like about this movie is that it is a typical David-vs-Goliath story. Against all possible odds, one man wins a long struggle not only for his invention, but also for his reputation and justice. A vanquisher in the greatest battle of his life. Kearns realizes his American Dream. His objective is not to get money from Ford. Instead, he wants justice to be served – he wants to be recognized as the inventor of the wipers. Thus, what he values the most is the title flash of genius, his genius. It reminds me of “A Beautiful Mind.” Similarly, there is a genius with a history of mental problems, the issue of recognition, and a wife who has to go through a hardship of it all.

One more thing I like is that the movie goes from a simple family story to a courtroom drama (one of my favorite subgenres). First, we see Kears as a husband and a father, who tries to instill values of goodness, creativity and honesty into his kids. Then, we see a determined man who defends himself in court, refuses to be bribed, and unflinchingly sticks to his values. Just as he wants, he sets an example for his kids. It’s extraordinary because most of the people in Kearns’ place would probably give up along the way.

The only accusation I find is that the entire story is a bit sentimentalized. The fight with Ford must have been a difficult time for Kearns, so difficult that it would probably break many men. Yet, Bob finds optimism, determination and strength to go on. It’s hard to tell why he believes in this seemingly lost cause. Moreover, there is Phyllis, whose story is barely touched upon (I know it is not a movie about her, but she is an important part in Bob’s life, after all). It’s all presented as a feelgood story rather than a drama. Of course, tt’s supposed to be optimistic. In this regard, it is successful, but I still think it’s sweetened a little.

Last but not least, the score (Aaron Zigman) gives the audience a chance to feel like 30 years ago. The music is a background that reminds us when we should feel happy or sad, and that’s a good thing. Furthermore, the main theme plays well with the story.

All in all, the movie proves that dreams DO come true, and we should never give up on them. Do not expect sex and violence, but rather an optimistic story of how to be determined and true to your cause. Plus there’s the great acting and atmospheric music. I like “Flash of Genius.” It’s a production undoubtedly worth watching.

Long days, pleasant nights,

Veronica Bazydlo

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