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Current War, The  (DVD)


Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Tom Holland, Tuppence Middleton, Matthew Macfadyen, Katherine Waterston, Damien Molony, Louis Ashbourne Serkis

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Jan Roelfs' production design for this otherwise enervating movie about the battle to provide the world with electricity is worth an Academy Award: it's stunning. Unfortunately, nothing else comes close to matching it, in a film that's as spiritless as an exorcised castle. It's on video-on-demand from 30 March.

Picture is a sleeper all right, but not in a good way, with the director's deadening hand on every frame.

It's the 1880s and, as it becomes evident that electricity is the future, and not gas, when it comes to the question of light, battle lines are soon drawn between Thomas Edison (Cumberbatch), inventor of improvements to Bell's telephone, and former gas magnate George Westinghouse (Shannon).

Both men are intransigent, obsessed individuals, but their rivalry does not make for riveting entertainment. Performances are solid, but the pace stolid, and the photography as dingy as the early candlelit scenes. Poor title too. At least something like The Electric War would have been a tad more marketable.

David Quinlan

USA 2018. UK Distributor: Film & TV House. Colour by Company 3 (print by Technicolor).
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 28 Mar 2020