[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

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.