The previews for “Flash of Genius” are inspiring, emotional and captivating.Unfortunately, the film in its entirety is a little disappointing. With a solid cast and an inspirational story, the film had a lot of promise. However, it did not quite live up to those high expectations.
“Flash” tells the story of Robert Kearns (portrayed here by Greg Kinnear), the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, and the judicial difficulties Kearns faced after his idea is ripped off by Ford. Kearns spends years trying to sue Ford for stealing his invention, and in the long and protracted process, loses his wife and family, his job and his friends.
The film’s greatest strength is its cast: All the actors present turn in strong performances that really make the audience empathize with their trials and tribulations. Kinnear plays the part so well that when you watch him on screen, you feel the immense amount of pain that this man felt for so many years.
Lauren Graham (of “Gilmore Girls”) once again reminds us that her talents extend past the realm of TV sitcoms. Dermot Mulroney is pitch-perfect in his portrayal of Kearns’ cold-hearted and stern business partner, who ultimately betrays him.
These strong performances can’t quite mask a script that suffers from a slow, plodding pace and incomprehensible lapses of rather large and important periods of time within the film’s chronology. In fact, there is no really solid material until the very last 20 minutes of the film. The courtroom scene nearly saves the film, as it affords Kinnear the chance to deliver a compulsively watchable, surprisingly un-cheesy dramatic speech.
I suspect this film, inspired by John Seabrook’s newspaper article, would have played better during the ’70s, but there is something timeless in its message that perseverance and determination can yield results. This film’s heart, rendered all the stronger by its excellent cast, grants the film a bit of leeway in the eyes of the spectator, transcending the generic sort of underdog story studios like to push into theaters time and time again.