Film: The Current War
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult,Tom Holland, Tuppence Middleton,Katherine Waterston
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Rating: * * * *
AC/DC is an Australian rock band but in the film under review it's all about the fierce competition between the great American inventor Thomas Edison and the industrialist George Westinghouse to install their electrical systems across America.
Business rivalries are not new and even the world of science was not immune Benedict Cumberbatch plays the arrogant genius Edison whose magnificent obsession to replace the gas lamp with the lightbulb is thwarted by Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) who promotes alternating current ( AC, which is cheaper than Edison's arguably safer direct current ( DC)
A third player enters the scene in the shape of Serbian engineer Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) who has dreams of his own. There is a memorable scene in which Tesla is cruelly told he will be forgotten. Famous last words.
The entrepreneur Elon Musk has immortalised Tesla by naming his electric sports car company after him.
Westinghouse's AC is vilified by Edison who is funded by banker J.P. Morgan (Matthew Macfadyen) He also has the unflinching loyalty of his ailing wife Mary (Tuppence Middleton) and his secretary, Samuel Insull (Tom Holland) whom he treats vastly better than poor Tesla. Even Westinghouse is treated shabbily.
It's interesting how the intense rivalry steers Edison who refused to develop devices that kill people, to test his electric chair prototype on animals.
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon ably directs a riveting drama which underlines issues of morality and business ethics and themes of perseverance and integrity. Lavishly produced with admirable attention to detail, a marvelous music score and camerawork, the film is well worth a watch for the top line acting by the cast, especially Cumberbatch and Shannon.