Brilliant, visionary Nikola Tesla (Ethan Hawke) fights an uphill battle to bring his revolutionary electrical system to fruition, then faces thornier challenges with his new system for worldwide wireless energy. The film tracks Tesla’s uneasy interactions with his fellow inventor Thomas Edison (Kyle MacLachlan) and his patron George Westinghouse (Jim Gaffigan). Another thread traces Tesla’s sidewinding courtship of financial titan J.P. Morgan (Donnie Keshawarz), whose daughter Anne (Eve Hewson) takes a more than casual interest in the inventor. Anne analyzes and presents the story as it unfolds, offering a modern voice to this scientific period drama which, like its subject, defies convention. Winner, Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
Telsa is one of the most uniquely presented biographies on film. Told from the narrative point of view of Anne Morgan and her unrequited love for Nikola Tesla, we are led into the mind of this scientifically gifted and eccentric man. Socially awkward, as many geniuses are, Telsa was responsible for changing more of history than most of us realize. His intelligence oftentimes hindering true companionship, his ups and downs can be felt through the screen by the wonderful performance from Ethan Hawke. Ever the chameleon, Hawke’s physicality and vocal dynamics force you to sit up and pay closer attention. But with the intrigue of the film’s presentation, this is an incredibly easy feat. There was a sadness to Telsa, an unending need for more success and validation of his contributions. Eve Hewson is captivating as Anne Morgan. Her sense of calm and poise put you at ease while you go on this engrossing journey. Jim Gaffigan as Westinghouse is also a complete joy to watch.
The look of this film is nothing short of stunning. Half theatrical stage play and half tongue in cheek look at technology, Telsa uses a modern scope in period dress to engage the audience. It immediately reminded me of the surprise that A Knight’s Tale utilized in 2001; music choices decades outside of the plot’s timeline. It made it all the more relatable in the coolest way. Endlessly enthralling, Tesla shines a light on some of the darker parts of one brilliant man’s life and work.
In Theaters and On Demand August 21st
TESLA is Written, Directed + Produced by Michael Almereyda