(We're re-posting our review of Flash of Genius from the Telluride Film Festival to coincide with the film's theatrical release this weekend)
By: Eugene Novikov
Flash of Genius is a conventional crowdpleaser but not, I'm pleased to report, a shameless one. Chronicling the true story of a college professor's fight to reclaim his invention – the intermittent windshield wiper – from the car company that stole it, the film does many of the things you'd expect, but it may also surprise you. Don't let its Telluride placement fool you: this is a staunchly mainstream, unchallenging film, the sort of underdog-vs.-corporate-behemoth story you've seen time and again. But it's a decent rendition, hitting the right notes without insulting our intelligence.
Now, the intermittent windshield wiper is not exactly the light bulb. If you're not familiar with the term, the wiper is "intermittent" in the sense that it can pause between wipes – a problem that apparently puzzled engineers at all the major car companies until Kearns cracked it the late 60s. But part of what's nifty about the film is its ability to create suspense and curiosity around something so seemingly mundane. Kearns' first demo of his device to Ford is exciting in a very goofy way, but exciting nonetheless.