Greg Kinnear stars as Robert Kearns, an engineering professor who has the idea, and then develops the intermittent windshield wiper. He tries to sell it to the Ford Motor Company, but they steal it. The bulk of the film deals with everything that Kearns lost as a result of Ford's theft- dignity, marriage, family, job, career, home, sanity (the list could go on). In one sense this is a very sad movie. A good man lost everything that he had ever held dear.
In another sense, this is a great triumph.
- Although Kearns lost the respect of children he never gave up on them, or having a relationship with them. And although he ultimately lost his marriage, he always hoped to save or rescue that relationship. He was deeply committed to his family. When he finally gets his day in court, we are glad to see that all his children have joined is ad hoc legal team. They are all in this together. When Ford sends a representative to the Kearns home on the night before the verdict and offers $30 million to settle the case, there is very little interest in anyone in the family. They stick together. The importance of family is a great lesson in Flash of Genius.
- Another triumph of this film is the importance of personal dignity and integrity. Our culture would have us believe that anything is okay if it leads to money, or an easy life, or advancement in the world. Robert Kearns rejects that idea. He is almost as corny as a traditional American superhero. He stands for truth, justice and the American way. A large settlement is less important to Kearns than the recognition that he was the inventor and that Ford stole his idea. For a moment I wanted him to compromise his convictions and take the money, but then I realized that it is much better to be principled than to be rich.
Flash of Genius is not everyone, but it is definitely worth watching.