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“TESLA” Dreams and Honors





Review by John Delia

The film biography of the inventor that gave the world DC electric, Tesla is now in theaters. The film plays out during his invention years and the fight he had to beat out the competition. Having seen the film The Current Wars a few years ago, Tesla is more of a spinoff of that film that pitted Westinghouse against Edison.

It’s 1884 and Nikola Tesla (Ethan Hawke) has parted from Thomas Edison (Kyle MacLachlan) over a debt owed to him. Having different ideas about bringing electricity to the world, the two differed on alternate current (AC) versus direct current (DC). As the two gained importance in the industry, their opinions were harsh towards each other. Though a lot of tactics on Edison’s part, he received the best reception to his product, but Tesla was not far behind.

Ethan Hawke as Nikola Tesla in TESLA photo courtesy of IFC Films

The war between them escalated and as each gained ground their attitudes toward each other kept getting worse. Written and directed by Michael Almereyda, he spools out his story slowly cramming more than enough of Tesla’s life, loves, speculations, love of art, predictions for the future and dealings with the business of electricity. Adding a lot of information that was not covered in The Current Wars, he does bring a lot of light on the inventors work on generators, motors, the effects of lightning/static electricity and communications.

The whole cast does a good job of bringing Tesla to the screen. As the enigmatic inventor, Ethan Hawke puts on a good show and he dominates the film. He shows Tesla as tenacious, determined, shy, yet most of all brilliant. Summing up the man, Hawke even sings stanzas from “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” in a droll voice to make a point.

Ethan Hawke as Nikola Tesla in TESLA photo courtesy of IFC Films

Tesla has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some thematic material and nude images. As a note, Tesla believed that there are beings in outer space and always felt like he would eventually communicate with them. It may be coincidence, but having the first SPACE X manned ship astronauts driven to the pad in a Tesla sounds pretty cool.

FINAL ANALYSES: Nicely acted and interesting. (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Kyle MacLachlan, Eve Hewson, Jim Gaffigan, Hannah Gross, Emma O’Connor, Ebon Moss-Bachrach
Directed and written by: Michael Almereyda
Genre: Biography, Drama
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic material and nude images
Running Time: 1 hr. 36 min.
Opening Date: August 21, 2020
Distributed by: IFC Films
Released in: Theaters, VOD

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