[Review] ‘THE CURRENT WAR’ a bio-drama charged with layered storytelling, magnetic performances

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

THE CURRENT WAR: DIRECTOR’S CUT

Rated PG-13, 107 minutes.
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Tom Holland, Katherine Waterston and Tuppence Middleton

During the awards season each year, biopics are chasing golden statues. So many of them have been made that most result in being a feature that seems like it was solely created to see a trophy-less A-list actor claim glory. Think about how many biopics had performances that rose above the material that surrounds them.

The Current War, about the competition between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to light the world, is equally a performance and storytelling showcase. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) faced many obstacles in getting his third feature to the big screen (including the Harvey Weinstein scandal and studio meddling). Still, after two years of headaches, five additional scenes and rework, Gomez-Rejon has powered fall with one of the year’s best films.

What so easily could have been a standard account, Gomez-Rejon uses all components of filmmaking to work in tandem. The kinetic movement of his camera, the razor-sharp editing style and pulsing musical score (that sounds like a combination of classical music from the Golden Age of cinema and an electrical hum) fasten your seatbelt for an emotional roller coaster. The film’s theme of sacrifice and the subtle way it weaves those ideas throughout its story generates sparks.

All that hard work and dedication on Gomez-Rejon’s part has paid off. Don’t let The Current War sink in the crowded movie waters. It’ll give you a rewarding amount of views on family versus passion to mull over and learn from.

Note: Be sure to visit Fresh Fiction later this week to read how Alfonso Gomez-Rejon got his film off the ground and into the hearts and minds of audiences.

Grade: A

THE CURRENT WAR: DIRECTOR’S CUT opens Friday.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.