Flash of Genius

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This cautionary tale for the ‘Dragon’s Den’ set takes in the career of Detroit-based amateur inventor Dr Robert Kearns (Greg Kinnear), the man who invented the intermittent windscreen wiper only, so the film suggests, to have the idea swiftly pinched by the Machiavellian tyrants at the Ford Motor Company. The ensuing David vs Goliath legal battle, which causes Kearns to lose his money, his friends, his family and his mental health, plays out over the standard biopic template as he refuses large cash settlements in the hope that the corporate giant will admit to stealing his idea.

But for a film that celebrates original thinking, it’s incredibly formulaic. The coldly efficient performances and direction do little to make something of this seriously non-headline grabbing material. Frustrations come to a head by the courtroom showdown, which is full of the usual romantic and wildly discursive testimonies, but contains virtually no mention of the specifics of the case, reducing what must have been a highly technical and intense legal process to a trite seminar in industrial ethics.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday March 20 2009
Duration: 119 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Marc Abraham
Screenwriter: Philip Railsback
Cast: Greg Kinnear
Lauren Graham
Alan Alda
Dermot Mulroney
Jake Abel

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

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oldbrit

Greg Kinnear manages to make a difficult character likeable enough that you care what happens to him. A worthy film, but nothing groundbreaking.