Film: The Current War
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, Tuppence Middleton, Matthew Macfadyen, Conor MacNeill
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
This much-delayed release, which had a lukewarm reception from critics and audience at its Toronto International Film Festival premiere two years ago, has finally overcome the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse deadweight, with timely help from executive producer Martin Scorsese and some reshoots. But Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s period enterprise that hopes to underline the rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse — the greatest inventors of the industrial age, is fairly intriguing no doubt but the overall effect is rather flagging.
The movie spans 13 years at the end of the 19th century and is a largely fictionalized account of the struggle between the two for supremacy during the spread of electrical power in the 1890s. Backed by J.P. Morgan, Edison(Benedict Cumberbatch) dazzles the world by lighting Manhattan. But Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), aided by Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), sees fatal flaws in Edison’s direct current design. Westinghouse and Tesla bet everything on risky and dangerous alternating current and this leads to a fight to be presented at the Prestigious World Fair.
Watch the trailer of The Current War here:
While the story and plotting doesn’t have much of a dramatic flourish or tension, the camerawork, production design and performances keep you intrigued and interested. Gomez-Rejon’s film looks impressive with Chung Chung-hoon’s camerawork lighting up the rather drab screenplay. The period accoutrements are intricately detailed. The narrative moves steadily into a confrontation while Chung-Hoon’s camera cobbles up a majesty all its own. Screenwriter Michael Mitnick tries hard to keep the scientific information simple without trivializing it and manages to do so – but at the expense of the enjoyment. The expository dialogue doesn’t quite register and as a result, a better part of this movie passes off in a haze. Cumberbatch, Shannon, Hoult and the ensemble cast give a good account of their craft – thus giving this experience the much-needed lift it deserved!