Hemingway & Gellhorn (TV Movie 2012) Poster

(2012 TV Movie)

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Some of the right ingredients but the cake fell
gradyharp29 May 2012
Philip Kaufman who directed this long and boring mess of a film knows better (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Twisted, etc) and the idea of reflecting on the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn which took place during so many important historical events (Spanish Civil War in Franco's Spain, WW II complete with the Allied Invasion of Europe at Normandy Beach, the Russian Invasion of Finland, the turmoil in China as Communism rose in reaction to the Japanese invasion, the strange position of Cuba in all of this). But the screenplay is so mediocre to very bad (screenwriters Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner) and the level of acting is so superficial that it simply falls flat.

Martha Gellhorn, the Collier's reporter who becomes a war correspondent and marries Ernest Hemingway as she travels up the ladder of fame, is by far the main character here. A very well made-up aged Martha (Nicole Kidman) opens the story as she is being interviewed for a TV program. We immediately are in flashbacks to how this stern woman met Hemingway in a Key West bar, matched him quip for poorly written quip and finally follows him in a very phony setup: Hemingway (Clive Owens in a shoddy performance) is traveling with John Dos Passos (David Strathairn), Spanish patriot Paco Zarra (Rodrigo Santoro) and crew to shoot a film by Joris Ivens (Lars Ulrich) to show the public the atrocities of Franco in the Spanish Revolution - a tiresomely overused gimmick. Everyone drinks a lot and Hemingway finally seduces Gellhorn to his bed in Madrid (he is currently married to the very Catholic Pauline (Molly Parker) who upon discovery his adultery refuses to divorce him). As the situation in Spain falls down, Hemingway and Gellhorn take their need to write - Hemingway to complete FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS and Martha flies off to various war fronts to be a war correspondent. Together they fight their way through experiences in China and other hot spots until ultimately Hemingway remains drunk in Cuba 'fighting off German U boats' and Gellhorn gives up on him.

Nicole Kidman gives the only remarkable performance; Clive Owens could have phoned in his role. Others in the huge cast of miniscule parts are Robert Duval , embarrassingly bad as a Russian General, Joan Chen as Madame Chiang, Tony Shalhoub as the Russian spy Koltsov, an excellent Santiago Cabrera as the famous war photographer Robert Capa, Peter Coyote (don't blink), Diane Baker, Parker Posey, and Connie Nielsen. The film runs 2 ½ hours on HBO and could easily have been edited down to an hour and a half. The only real saving grace (meaning the only reason to watch it0 is the very artistic way the film is a blend between contemporary cinematography and real film footage from the events in the story. That part is Magical. Otherwise, this is a snooze fest.

Grady Harp
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At Least They Got the History Right
yakster130 May 2012
I'm always leery of historical epics and biopics that never get the history right. Composite characters are created, the time line is messed with, people say things that are attributed to others etc. After viewing Hemmingway and Gellhorn and then doing a little background research, Kaufman and Co. at least got the story right especially the events of the Spanish Civil War. These scenes look exactly like the Robert Capa photos taken when he accompanied Hemmingway and Gellhorn. Nicole Kidman is great as usual, Clive Owen is a bit over the top but then again he is playing someone who was in many ways, larger than life. I felt both Robet Duvall and Peter (don't blink or you'll miss him) Coyote talents were wasted in minor roles. The blending of sepia with black and white was a good way to invoke the photos and news footage of the day and by inserting the characters into this historic footage (a la Forrest Gump) really showed that the characters were part of something much larger. At 2 1/2 hours I wasn't bored but it could've benefited from a better script and tightening the story somewhat.
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Really not very good
tpaladino2 June 2012
I wanted to enjoy this film very much, and was looking forward to seeing it.

Unfortunately it doesn't deliver in any way other than visually. It was shot and edited beautifully, and had a lot of potential. But that's where it ends.

The story is boring and meandering, and never really gives you anything to sink your teeth into. The character development is shockingly superficial, as though we're automatically supposed to care about Hemingway and Gellhorn simply because they're Hemmingway and Gellhorn. Sadly, it just doesn't work like that; the notoriety of he subject matter isn't enough to carry the story without competent writing to back it up.

Ultimately we're left with a disappointingly empty portrayal of one of the most colorful and dynamic individuals in history.
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Sophomoric soap opera
Docjbp19 June 2013
A truly miserable film that trades in posing, overacting and phony' hyperdramatic lines. It is Insipidly researched: a five-minute read of Wikipedia may seem adequate to the badly underdeveloped, but why would they be the audience for a film like this. It is clunkily written, in dialogue and in its scenarios. The film is unfair to Hemingway, reducing him to a loud bully conspicuously and constantly panicked about his manhood and ignoring the balance of his life and personality. It is unfair to dos Passos, portraying one who saw much combat and who was regularly passed over for literary prizes because of his conviction. making him appear to be a weak and feckless hanger-on. It is also unfair to Gellhorn, who was a truly great war correspondent.

The actor Clive Owen is quite an unfortunate choice to play Hemingway. Owen never sounds appropriate.

The film's author seems to have a grudge against Hemingway, too.

This seems aimed at no one past a high school freshman level. In fact, it seems to be written by three or four of them, and directed by the least tasteful of the group.

Is American movie-making deliberately getting dumber or are such movies just negligent.
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Bad Hemingway
ldavis-210 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
There was once a contest called the International Imitation Hemingway Competition, better known as Bad Hemingway, in which entrants submitted the most-ludicrous, ham-fisted short stories in the style of the man some consider the greatest writer America has ever produced, Ernest Hemingway. Too bad the contest is now defunct, because the twits behind Hemingway & Gellhorn could have submitted this ham-fisted ludicrousness, and "won" hands down!

I positively howled at the scene where a bomb explodes as the title characters are doing the nasty, stop as debris rains on them, then pick up where they left off. Then, the film had the gall to have the heroine come upon the crying baby who was the lone survivor of a Japanese bombing raid (one of the most horrific of all wartime images). When her guide (whom I thought at first was the butchiest woman in China) tells her there's nothing they can do, I wanted to reach inside the TV, and throttle them! That the guide turned out to be the future Chairman Mao - whose regime killed at least 40 million people (and babies) - was a bit of nasty the filmmakers didn't want to touch with a 10 foot chopstick. Instead, they were too busy turning Mao's partner in crime, Zhou Enlai, into an erudite stud, castrating Chiang Kai-shek, and making a convincing argument for "Papa" and "Marty" being Forrest Gumps's parents!

When one plays a real person, he should inspire the viewer to learn more about that person; Owen and Kidman fail miserably. Granted, Hemingway and Gellhorn were not the nicest people, to put nicely. And Gellhorn cheated on Hemingway throughout their marriage -- another bit of nasty the filmmakers wanted no part of.

Owen looked like a nerdy Groucho Marx, and Kidman looked like, well, Nicole Kidman. And the script was a putrid mess. "You spend so much time arguing with F. Scott Fitzgerald about who has a bigger penis, but I know the truth"? Gag!

After "Marty" kicked the documentary crew out of her apartment, I was hoping she would follow "Papa"'s lead. But no such luck. Instead, we are "treated" to a bizarre interaction between her and a raven at her window (!). Then, she straps a backpack on, and storms out like an overgrown Girl Scout having a bitch fit. She wasn't the only one having a bitch fit.
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Ambitious but without direction
mille-383-94731329 May 2012
The movie left me flat. I was interested in the history and intrigued to see how it was portrayed. Skipping back and forth between the sepia, black and white and colour formats was disruptive. Further I don't think that the two principals did their roles justice. Like Hemingway they tried, almost painfully at times, to be larger than life and it resulted in inconsistent portrayals of these remarkable characters....both are good actors...probably a function of bad direction. The love affair didn't work at all....I guess a combination of things got in the way of my enjoying the movie. Several times I commented "this is not a very good flick" as we watched...and yet we watched it to the end...knowing how it would end....a strange viewing experience. I wanted it to be better and it had such potential to be so.
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Kidman Miscast Again
sandy-34029 May 2012
I don't understand the praise for Kidman in this role. I couldn't get past her overly botoxed expressionless face (she only showed two emotions with facial gestures throughout the entire movie - a deer in headlights and disgust). Owen doesn't look anything like Hemingway and certainly didn't capture his essence - not even slightly. The sex scenes were nauseating and far too explicit in many ways. Everything about the movie came off as phony, fake, contrived. The sepia effect flashing in and out in certain scenes looked odd. The interaction between the two characters looked forced and unnatural. I kept thinking how much I loved that movie "Julia" (1977) and how wonderful Jane Fonda and Jason Robards were as Lillian Hellman and Dashiel Hammett. Kidman and Owen should have watched that movie before making this one - they could've learned a thing or two about two writers in an intimate relationship and how it should be acted.
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Excruciatingly dull
tiercel130 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
It's not a good sign when everyone in a movie is busy praising the main characters in lieu of the characters actually exhibiting any of the traits that would presumably make them interesting or praiseworthy.

Welcome to "Hemingway and Gellhorn," a picture overblown with its own importance and desperately in need of an editor's scalpel. Ironic that this should be so, given how Hemingway is so often cited for his "terse, lean" style, much less Gellhorn's necessarily efficient war correspondence journalism.

The lethargic disjointed pretense of a plot finds itself upstaged by cameras fading between monochrome and full color as well the occasional tawdry unconvincing grapple of a sex scene in lieu of actual romance. While the paper-thin writing gives Kidman and Owen little to do with their characters, they might as well be phoning this one in, for all the depth they invest in this film.
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A Shallow Attempt
CryptoGuy5 June 2012
I was really disappointed in this movie. The build up and anticipation for it was great. I had high expectations. With Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman leading the charge, it was Kaufman's to screw up, and screw it up he did.

The characters were shallow, but they fit right in with the ankle deep script. I thought the historic film gimmick was overplayed and laughable at times. Clive Owen tried his hardest to bring life to Stahl and Turner's straw-man. Hemingway never had any real motive and when it appeared that he might, it was abandoned. Nicole Kidman did a fine job as well, but it had to be long days and frustrating nights with the stiff dialogue. The supporting cast was lifeless, filled with assumptions, and caricatures of an era. Watching this film was like watching an artist that promised to paint you a masterpiece then he pulled out a mop. This was sloppy film-making and it started with the script and ended with the director. A poor showing for such a rich subject.
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Pretty Bad
rit5630 May 2012
Considering the talent involved I expected so much more from this film. The 2 principles were not good. They both seemed not very comfortable in their roles or maybe they just couldn't rise to the occasion, playing 2 historical figures who are so significant. There is a lot of over acting especially when going for a non dialog , reaction shot, other characters seemed as though they weren't really into it. Just reading lines. Sorry but this was really bad.... Some sets were beautiful and some of the b&w shots were interesting but like in pop music you can have the best musicians but you need songs.... The acting and script didn't cut it.. I don't know. As you can see no names mentioned here.... don't want to single anyone out on to the next project I suppose.
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Martha Gellhorn Lands Big Fish
rmax30482329 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Nicole Kidman is Marth Gellhorn, correspondent and third wife of Ernest Hemingway. She narrates the story while looking directly into the camera. I believe about half of what she tells us and not the other half. That's not counting the half she leaves out. I guess that's three halves but it's okay if it doesn't add up because neither does her story.

To put it in brief, Gellhorn is a beautiful young, ambitious Collier's correspondent who runs into the married Hemingway in a Key West saloon. He puts the moves on her, calls her "Elegance," and she responds to this manly man with the hairy chest and all that charm.

That's the first half of the movie. Hemingway commits adultery out of sheer self indulgence, divorces his rigidly Catholic wife and insists on marrying Gellhorn who -- she tells us -- "abhors marriage." (Sure.) In the second half of the movie, we begin what almost amounts to an entirely different Lifetime Movie Network film. Hemingway not as forceful love but as male chauvinist pig.

He feels she's competing with him, perhaps outdoing him. He belittles her, calling her "Little Miss Human Interest." He gets drunk in her absence, belts her around when she returns. He takes up with Mary Welsh and abuses her until she demands a divorce, which he is loathe to give her because he feels her owns her. "I MADE YOU!", he shouts through her locked door. To cap it off, Gellhorn winds up being interviewed by a smug David Frost type who asks her to discuss "your debt to Hemingway." It's like watching a full reel of clichés spin out, one after another. Historical accuracy is almost a minor problem. We hear and see everything from the point of view of Martha Gellhorn. We hear private conversations between the couple for which there is no evidence other than what we hear in the script. Ernest Hemingway tells Martha that he was impotent with his wife from day one? Who's kidding whom? And Martha deliberately goes alone to Europe to cover the more dramatic events of World War II while Hemingway sits with his cronies at Finca Vigia in Cuba getting soused? That's simply not true. Hemingway was a correspondent who landed on the Normandy beach and followed the war armed with a Tommy gun -- at least, if you believe Carlos Baker's definitive biography. Hemingway managed to get himself reprimanded because correspondents are not supposed to fire weapons.

The movie is a cheap piece of melodrama and Harlequin Romance. Gellhorn was wife number three and, like all four of Hemingway's wives, managed to insinuate herself into his good graces (let's say) and land a celebrity husband. They all did it the same way. If, say, there was a party, the wife-to-be was able to seat herself between Hemingway and his wife of the moment -- and Hemingway was too dumb or self-absorbed to see what was going on. His first wife was Hadley, and he remained closest to her for the rest of his life. Gellhorn was just squeezed in somewhere along the line.

The production values are high. The movie is easy to look at and the wardrobe and make up is convincing. Nicole Kidman is no longer a teen ager but her nose still has that geometrically perfect curve and the curves are not confined to her nose. Clive Owen is the priapic Hemingway and he looks and sounds a little like Groucho Marx. We do get to meet some figures of historical interest -- Robert Capa and John dos Pasos and Maxwell Perkins, for instance -- but only well enough to shake hands. Most of those names probably won't ring any bells with younger or less sophisticated viewers but that's not entirely the fault of the script.

I don't want to take up much more space but let me emphasize that I don't really object to historical inaccuracies. Real stories need to be condensed. Some people and events need to be elided. I understand that. But the thrust of history can't be warped to the extent that reality itself is discarded. (How about a war movie in which the Nazis win?) This isn't the story of a love affair between Hemingway and Gellhorn and its subsequent dissolution. This is the story of heroine Martha Gellhorn, talented, independent, strong, seduced, loving, adoring, abused, and humiliated. "I will not be a footnote to someone else's life," she says. Sadly, narcissistic ass though he was, it was Hemingway who wrote the novels and stories that won the Nobel Prize, not Gellhorn.

"That's my last famous author painted on the wall, looking as if he were alive."
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The most grotesque misrepresentation of the Spanish Civil War
miguelmarias27 November 2012
There have been already a lot of them, but I could not believe my eyes or ears that something (even a TV movie) made in 2012 and supposedly directed by Philip Kaufman(who made "The Right Stuff"), edited by Walter Murch and with a cast of several big names involved, could be so wrong, so boring, so ridiculous and so infuriating. Even the newsreels are badly chosen (and distorted), with Franco appearing always much older than he was during the war. In fact, I cannot see the purpose of such a film, which I think is denigrating for everyone appearing as a character in it, from Hemingway to Dos Passos, from Joris Ivens to Orson Welles. I can only guess, but I imagine the Finland episode, although much shorter, may be as false as the Madrid ones. Only Nicole Kidman - as an old woman - and sometimes the score (not the period or "local" pieces or songs) are acceptable.
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A consistently dreadful movie
kickapoo2-512-5532826 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
A previous reviewer said the movie was historically accurate; not so, I fear. One would think "AY CARMELA" was only song the Republicans had during the Spanish Civil War (had the producers never heard of "NO PASARAN!"?, and the version of this song played ad nauseam in the film was not in existence in '36 when the movie begins.

And then there's the whole cartoonish nonsense of the couple's meeting for tea (and chocolate!) with the Chiang Kai Sheks (portrayed in the sort of Leftist propaganda style we've become accustomed to) and then a heart-to-heart meeting with Zhou en-lai (naturally portrayed as a "nice, sincere guy") via some Communist underground hocus pocus. There is no evidence any of this took place.

One wonders if the second Mrs. Hemingway was hypocritical enough to play the "good Catholic" when she herself had committed adultery with Hemingway when he was still married to wife number one, one of her friends.

But I am glad to have seen Hemingway portrayed as he was: a bully, egotist, and swine to women in particular.
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A semi-interesting story of one small facet of Hemingway's and Gellhorn's lives
casaitza18 August 2012
I was disappointed by Kidman's and Owen's acting. There seemed to be no effort made to be truly convincing in their roles, and often their expression made me chuckle. Sophomoric acting, at best. The screenplay was hardly one to wow me. A simplistic take on both these people, with no hint as to Hemingway's confused sexuality. A man fascinated by guns and macho personalities -bullfighters, soldiers, safari hunters. The politics of the time, particularly the Spanish civil war, were glossed over. John Dos Passos, one of the U.S's greatest writers of the 20th century, is portrayed as something of a naive wuss. Maybe some day, some director will make a convincing movie about Hemingway. This was definitely not the case. I watched about 45 minutes, and called it a night.
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Love Hemmingway & Gelhorn
paulgrippaldi13 June 2012
I loved this movie. I was enthralled with the love story between Hemmingway & Gelhorn. Knowing little about his life and really nothing about hers I was drawn into the film by their amazing lives. What a trailblazer she was. It's one of the best performances I have seen from Nichole Kidman or Clive Owen. They had great chemistry together. I believed that they were their characters. This movie was sexy, funny, sad and complicated. Just like life. I also got into the historical aspect of the film which I also knew little about before. One of my favorite parts was Robert Duval as the Russian general. He was awesome. This is the best movie that I have seen on HBO in a while.
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best avoided
bruenho20 May 2013
cannot begin to understand how this expensive never ending film succeeds in gathering layers after layers of clichés, poor one liners, overacted scenes, and pointless attempts at recreating moments in history ; what Nicole Kidman, tartily dressed in various attires to make one believe she portrays a reporter, possibly achieve is giving close to nil a performance compared to Clive Owen complete tourist approach in his Hemingway role. It took me a while to figure out why I stayed with it, hoping for a redeeming scene, or some sort of irony to put it all in perspective, but i was almost relieved by the end, seeing the aged journalist picking up her same old gear tottering away from her desk. The award for the worst scene being the sex scene happening in a room at the Florida hotel in Madrid, where Gellhorn and Hemingway roll in a cloud of dust and go cuddly after being blasted to ecstasy...
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Nicole Kidman wears tight pants.
blazed-227 July 2012
It is sad when there's a film about writers in one of Europe's most important conflicts, and its biggest highlight is the lead actresses's butt.

Don't get me wrong. The butt is fine. But when I want my films to concentrate on bums, I watch porn without all the pretentiousness HBO Films decided to feed us with this time (and after amazing Temple Grandin!)

The main characters are brave and amazing, they drink, dance, sing, have sex during a bomb raid and are generally so perfect you really wish one of the fascist bombs gave this coitus of geniuses a premature resolution.

The character of Gellhorn (Kidman) is the song "Don't you wish your girlfriend was as cool as me?"

The character of Hemingway (Owen) is an amalgam of the cheapest Papa trivia you could find.

They're the heroes.

The antagonists are invisible and we don't get to know anything about them, but we're left to assume that if such cool dudes as H & G are against them, they must be bad.

In short: Crazy, bad-ass life of two geniuses as told by a very pompous & naive 16 year old.
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Nicole Kidman and others wasted in 160 minute debacle
hgoldner-129 May 2012
This would get a zero if it weren't for Nicole Kidman, who occupies a poorly written Martha Gellhorn well and attempts to overcome a poorly shot, undisciplined and self-indulgent epic that is saddled with a mawkish Clive Owen as Hemingway, and other class actors doing their best to bring two dimensions (or fewer) to characters who could have been three dimensional. Other great actors wasted: Robert Duvall, David Straithairn, Molly Parker, Parker Posey....so many careers, so little time.

And what was with the black and white to sepia to color photography? Was it supposed to mean something? Either go with the newsreels, or go black and white. The mix was confusing, ineffective, and distracting.

When it comes out on video, it should be 90 minutes long at most (and then it will still be awful, but not for as long).
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capagerda11 June 2012
This is a really amazing film. Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman give terrific performances. The way Nicole inhabits the character of Martha Gellhorn was a thing to behold. She has never been better! Clive Owen is such a terrific actor and I always enjoy his work. Owen's Hemingway is amazing: he has you laughing with him one moment and the next he terrifies you. It's a really haunting performance and I'm sure they will both be nominated for Emmys. It's full of wonderful actors and superb visual effects. I have been reading about the way they were able to "nest" characters into the archival footage and it's breathtaking. The film takes you all over the world and I was surprised to learn that the whole film was shot in the San Francisco Bay area. What a feat! This film is truly a classic. They don't make them like this anymore. Don't miss it.
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EMMY for Kidman
mr733313 June 2012
Nice Movie, and excellent performance by all the actors, and Nicole Kidman is another story, i was stunned by her performance, i mean she is a really talented actress, and she keep impress me say after day, so i think she deserve an EMMY, specially for the older Galhorn part. its a bit long but not boring so it was a movie to watch. And Clive, he was good. and Rodrigo and all of the other actors. Lars Urich of Metallica surprise me so much. I think Kaufman deserve a life time achievement award for his life work, and i think the film should get more high rates. so i advice everyone to watch it, because it talks about two important American literatures.
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Opposites Attract-They Couldn't Hemingway & Gellhorn ***1/2
edwagreen29 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen give wonderful performances as Martha Gellhorn, war correspondent, and the love of her life, the brilliant Ernest Hemingway.

They not only wrote about the devastation of war, they viewed it first-hand. The battle scenes during the Spanish Revolution were authentic and awesome to say the least.

As the hotel in Spain is bombed, the two begin a torrid love affair and eventually wed. Their problem was that they were too much alike and as a result, emotional problems would invariably result.

The Spanish Revolution was Hemingway's reason for writing "For Whom the Bell Tolls." In reality, the only woman who ever really benefited from him was Katina Paxinou. As his fiery revolutionary in that great 1943 film, Paxinou was named best supporting actress.

Robert Duvall has an uncredited memorable bit-part as a Russian general.
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chrstnd35-393-6917810 June 2012
I really looked forward to the premiere of this film on HBO, only to be shockingly disappointed. Having read A Moveable Feast, The Sun Also Rises and The Paris Wife, I was fully prepared to dislike Hemingway. After all, he was not a likable person. He was a gifted artist, but by all accounts he was a male chauvinist SOB.

What I wasn't prepared for was Clive Owen's caricature of the great writer.This is some of the worst acting I have ever seen. With such a great subject and amazing cinematography, I can't believe the makers of this film settled for such a mediocre performance. Nicole Kidman was good,but she couldn't make up for Owen's horrific performance.
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I didn't learn much about the lives of the two lead characters
jeaniesa29 May 2012
Visually, a cinematic masterpiece on the big screen (San Francisco Castro Theater, May 27, 2012). The old, historical footage blended artistically and imaginatively with the new. The music! Moving and memorable. Nicole Kidman is beautiful as ever. (Can I get the name of her plastic surgeon?) The opening immediately catches your attention, with Ms. Gellhorn telling the story, as a woman of a certain age who is looking back.

On the other hand, I was disappointed to learn so little about their life together and their professions, especially hers. The in-your-face sex left nothing to the imagination. I simply got tired of watching Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen faking it.
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Not an Easy Assignment
LeonLouisRicci2 June 2012
Good try at combining a study of complex people and a look at the completely incomprehensible war torn twentieth century experienced first hand by the famous authors. Not an easy assignment.

The suffering of the ravaged and the slaughter of the human race and the love of two volatile writers are given equal time but the subjects are heavy and elusive at best.

The best one can hope for is a film worthy of the fight against Fascism (that could destroy the spirit in the best of us) and hold our interest in these two interesting people.

Still some insight about journalistic war time coverage comes through and there is some good use of cinema tricks and smooth transitions that helps move it all along at an entertaining clip.
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jcampbellpsp11 July 2017
Horrible one dimensional garbage. Clive Owen obviously thought this was a Marx Brothers bio-pic and he is Groucho Marx. All characters are made out to be cardboard cut outs except Gellhorn, and that greatly diminishes that character. The title should be Grouch and Gellhorn. What rubbish.
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