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The Professor and the Madman (2019)

Director:
Farhad Safinia
COUNTRY
USA/Ireland

GENRE
Drama/Biographical

NORWEGIAN TITLE
-

RUNNING TIME
124 minutes

RELEASED BY
Vertical Entertainment
Producer:
Nicolas Chartier
Gastón Pavlovich
Screenwriter (based on a book by Simon Winchester):
Todd Komarnicki
Farhad Safinia


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
James Murray Mel Gibson
William Chester Minor Sean Penn ˝
Eliza Merrett Natalie Dormer
Muncie Eddie Marsan
Ada Murray Jennifer Ehle ˝
Charles Hall Jeremy Irvine
Church David O'Hara
Henry Bradley Ioan Gruffudd
Winston Churchill Brendan Patricks
Richard Brayne Stephen Dillane
Frederick James Furnival Steve Coogan
Philip LyttletonGell Laurence Fox

 

Review

Producer Mel Gibson and his director Farhad Safinia (here credited under a pseudonym) disavowed this entire production before the film was released following a dispute with production company Voltage Pictures. Luckily, their differences aren't visible on-screen, because this is a fine little film about Scottish lexicographer James Murray (Mel Gibson), renowned for his work with compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, and William Chester Minor (Sean Penn), a mentally ill murder-convict who from his room at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum became one of the leading contributers of entries for the dictionary. This story, based on the book "The Surgeon of Crowthorne" by Simon Winchester, is so remarkable and out of the ordinary that the small artistic liberties the filmmakers allow themselves aren't worth mentioning. In the skilled hands of Safinia, the film very rarely comes off as anachronistic. The Professor and the Madman combines its appreciation for the English language with a couple of engrossing character-portraits which are solidly (Gibson) and brilliantly acted (Penn), respectively. Penn's performance here is so dedicated and full of intuition that one could get concerned about the actor's own mental health. It's a performance that could have been an Oscar candidate under different circumstances.

Copyright © 05.02.2020 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang

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