Friday, 19 March 2010

Film Review: FLASH OF GENIUS (2008)

Director: Marc Abraham
Running time: 115 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 12

UK Release Date: 20th March 2009

Watched on Sky+ Friday 19th March 2010.


I really enjoy a courtroom drama and I really enjoy watching the little guy get the better of the big corporation. So I was really pleased when I came across this film, which combines the two. Set in Detroit in the 1960’s, it tells of one man’s battle to get recognition from a large automobile manufacturer who, he claims, stole his idea.

Bob Kearns is a college professor who teaches engineering, he’s also an inventor. He is married to Phyllis and they have six children (yes, six). One day while driving his family home from church in a rainstorm, he comes up with an idea for an intermittent windscreen wiper. He designs a prototype and, with the help of his long-time friend, Gil Previck, he gets it patented. Now Bob wants to sell his idea to Ford, the largest automobile manufacturer, but he also wants to manufacture it himself. They show the idea to Ford, being very careful not to show them how it works, and they are impressed. After a meeting with one of their top managers, Macklin Tyler, and with promises of contracts, Bob eventually lets them examine his prototype. Just as he’s getting ready to go into manufacturing, Ford pulls the plug and Bob is left feeling let down. This is until the day he sees a new Ford Mustang in the street with an intermittent wiper on it. He is determined to get Ford to admit they stole his idea, so much so that it affects both his marriage and mental state. I’ll leave my little summary there or I’ll give too much away!

A really well made film that captured the world of 1960’s Detroit very well. Great performances from both Greg Kinnear as Bob Kearns and Lauren Graham as his long suffering wife Phyllis. Honourable mentions go to Dermot Mulroney as Gil Previck, Mitch Pileggi as Macklin Tyler and it was nice to see Alan Alda as the lawyer Gregory Lawson.

The first half of the film is quite slow, there’s a lot of character development and I felt it ambled along a little too much. However, the second half is much better, the story really starts to take off and there is a really good ending. I really engaged with the main characters and I found it a very enjoyable film to watch. It’s slightly over long, but it’s one I can certainly recommend.

My score: 6.8/10

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