The Current War Review
By Myla Tosatto
Combining the educational qualities of a documentary and the beautiful lushness of an art house movie you will find Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s The Current War. I can’t think of a better night at the cineplex than to be thoroughly entertained while learning a thing or two along the way.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Thomas Edison, inventor extraordinaire. So who was Edison at war with? Pretty much everyone (including himself). The Current War focuses on his fight with George
Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) for electrical control of the United States (and to a lesser degree Nicholas Hoult’s Nikola Tesla). On his side, Edison has his wife Mary (Tuppence Middleton) and his secretary Insull (Tom Holland). As Westinghouse’s loyal soldiers he has his wife, the ruthless Marguerite (Katherine Waterson) and Frank Pope (Stanley Townsend). On neither or both sides is J.P. Morgan (Matthew Macfadyen).
This may not be a new story for some but it is a fabulous and lavish telling. As in all wars, things get dirty and unethical but this battle is illuminated by fine acting*, grand sets and scenery, and gorgeous costumes. The story begins in 1880 but the themes resonate with us in the present time. It is a tale of brilliance, determination, law, fame, press manipulation, family, death, science and ethics.
Kids can absolutely see this story based on actual history (it makes learning go down easily). Just make sure that you read what happens to animals that crossed Edison’s paths. You can google it. I’m not going to get into it here. The Current War shows a pretty bleak part of Edison’s history. At the same time, you wouldn’t be watching ANY movies if it weren’t for Edison, so. . . There is also a death penalty debate to be had after watching this film.
Luckily for you, the viewer, Mr. Cumberbatch has worked REALLY hard on his American accent! He has come a long way since August: Osage County and his runs as Doctor Strange. Thanks, Benedict!