Current War: All-Star Bio-Bash

DATELINE: Threesome of Stars!

         Hoult, Cumberbatch, Shannon: Currency

 

The Current War  was withheld from release and largely ignored because it was produced by pariah and sex abuser Harvey Weinstein.

The shame is that the movie is actually extremely good with remarkable performances. All for naught, thanks to Weinstein’s behavior.

In case you missed it, like most movie viewers, it is the story of Thomas Edison and his nasty rivalry with George Westinghouse over the burgeoning electricity industry and light bulbs. Yes, it is quite a topic for an intelligent and well-directed film. The production is positively incandescent.

This is not dry history, but crackles when Benedict Cumberbatch tosses Sherlock under the bus and adopts a middle American accent of a low-brow creepy Edison. Forget the grand dignity of Spencer Tracy in the role way back when light biopics were the rage.

 

Cumberbatch plays Edison as a lying media hound in Trump proportions and the semi-great man stole many of his ideas whilst in his tyrannical Menlo Park lab from workers like Nikola Tesla who is called here a “futurist,” played by Nicholas Hoult (who has given us J.D. Sailnger and Tolkien performances in recent years). Hoult may be the new Paul Muni.

At the other end of the electric feud is George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) as the dignified and aristocratic rich inventor who wanted DC electricity—and between the insults with Edison, the two men play backlit characters to the real star of the movie, Tesla in the person of Hoult.

You won’t be shocked to hear that this film is an actors’ dream showcase. We will resist calling the performers electrifying or even working in deep undercurrent.

It’s reasonably accurate in its history too, which is a plus. We have always had a soft spot for those classic matchup of actors playing off and against each other. This time we have a trio to add to the mix of Burton and O’Toole, Heston and Olivier, and Lancaster and Douglas, all in historical feud movies.

This film is the first to try the rivalry with three historical figures and three grand performers. Marvelous.