Flash of Genius Marc Abraham

Flash of Genius Marc Abraham
Flash of Genius is a great story stuck in a mediocre film with the misfortune of being compared to some truly great recent efforts about obsessive everymen battling big bureaucracy (The Insider, JFK and Zodiac). Greg Kinnear plays Bob Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, an idea unfortunately stolen by Ford in the late '60s, with no credit to Kearns. His 14-year odyssey to reclaim his rights as an inventor and his dignity as a workingman saw the break-up of his marriage and the near disintegration of his relationship with his six kids. That's a lot of time to span and first-time director Marc Abraham does a lot of hopscotching through the years, aging Kinnear carefully and changing the actors who play his kids. It's a seamless transition but Abraham rarely stops to craft a truly satisfying scene that broadens the characters. We also never get to see the evidence of Kearns's obsession — there are maybe three scenes, no more then four or five shots in total and less than 5 minutes of screen time. The courtroom scenes are also mishandled. In the movies, courtroom trials are not only meant to convince the fake jury but the audience as well. Kearns and the Ford lawyers dance around each other but we never see the nuts and bolts argument as to how Kearns convinced the jury that Ford stole his idea. Abraham concentrates solely on righteousness and the honour of Kearns's journey and doesn't put in the effort that Kearns's story deserves. Flash of Genius succeeds solely on the back of Greg Kinnear. His expressive eyes and forehead creases talk to us as much as the dialogue on the page. He single-handedly carries the film through two near-deadweight acts to the rousing finale. With Kearns's victory, he's also given the cold hard realization of the true cost of his journey. Abraham leaves it to the audience to decide if it was worth it all or not. Was Kearns a noble champion or a selfish fool? The bare DVD contains five or six short deleted scenes with commentary, as well as a full-length feature commentary, which Abraham uses with insight to discuss the pitfalls and perils of making a period film under relatively lower budget conditions. (Universal)