Michael Almereyda’s Tesla Is A Creative But Dark Biopic


Michael Almereyda’s Tesla isn’t your typical biopic. While it does give actual facts and information, it goes a bit off the wall.

Tesla Movie Poster

My husband works in the nuclear power field and is really into power — so anything related to Tesla, is right up our alley. He actually has not one, but two, mini statues of Tesla in his office at work. Recently we have been watching a lot of movies about electricity. First The Current War, then Radioactive, and now Tesla.

This biopic on Tesla is a little bit off the wall, and entirely different than I expected. Which is not to say that is a bad thing. Ethan Hawke is fine as Tesla — although he really goes for the dark and brooding version I can only imagine was on the pages of the script. Again, not to say I didn’t like that. We all know how I like dark and gritty. But I often felt bad for him to the point where I was depressed for him. And I didn’t like that feeling.

From what my husband has told me about Tesla, and what I learned from other films, his life was not too easy. He was taken advantage of a lot and of course, that could lead to someone feeling down and depressed. He was an absolute brilliant mind, that is for certain.

tesla edison

If you are a fan of Nikola Tesla, or want to learn more about him, there is a lot of truth in Tesla. But be prepared for some very weird scenes between him and Thomas Edison, and him and George Westinghouse. Weird doesn’t mean bad. Just weird. 

Anne Morgan, played by Eve Hewson, narrates the biopic, and does a fantastic job.  The scene towards the end of the movie, with Tesla singing karaoke, felt very, very off to me. I actually felt a little awkward watching it and definitely could have done without it.

Tesla Movie review

Overall Thoughts

What Writer-Director Michael Almereyda does with this film is very ambitious. While it doesn’t always work, enough of it landed to make it more than worth a watch. It is clear he tried to show the human side of Tesla and like I said, some parts went a bit too off the wall to fit into the story.

Honestly, I preferred Nicholas Hoult’s version of Tesla from The Current War, however I feel like I learned a lot more about him in this movie. That is more of a praise toward Nicholas Hoult, than a criticism of Ethan Hawke or this movie. While watching Tesla, I often found myself wondering how Hoult would have handled a particular scene. Having seen The Current War so recently certainly had an impact on this, even though it is really not fair to compare the two.

Tesla is a kind of biopic that I could be totally down for more of. It has a very Drunk History feel, which I am totally here for. My biggest issue was with the few parts that really missed the mark, and the fact that I recently saw Nicholas Hoult do a fabulous job portraying Tesla. The latter of which I tried to push out of my head, but had a hard time doing.

Tesla Movie review

About Tesla

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 distinctly modern voice to this scientific period drama which, like its subject, defies convention.


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