Adam Cullen (Daniel Henshall) was a renowned Australian artist and Acute Misfortune tells the story of his life through the words from his biography as written by Erik Jensen (Toby Wallace). For those who haven’t read Jensen’s biography and have seen a lot of biopics about various famous people (or people they never heard of) then perhaps they would be expecting a particular kind of format.
However, actor turned director Thomas M. Wright’s biopic of Adam Cullen does away with any of the familiar tropes and cliches that audiences may have come to expect. The rose-tinted glasses are thrown away as Acute Misfortune is not told through the eyes of a fan or the carefully drawn up agreement made by Cullen’s estate so as to not show him in a bad light.
Instead, Acute Misfortune shows Cullen very much as he would have been. Warts and all may be a phrase that is bandied about to bring in an audience, but in this case the warts and all are just the honest truth and a terrific portrayal by Henshall.
Drafted in to write Cullen’s biography, Jensen doesn’t know quite what to expect. After all there’s a fine line between genius and madness and as he gets to know Cullen, Jensen starts to realise that the world of an artist (particularly this one) is not one in which he may want to involve himself.
Henshall’s performance is as close to the real man that anybody could imagine and thankfully besides a little eccentricity and intensity in the script and his performance, Henshall still manages to stay in a character that’s real and the film doesn’t wander off into spectacle over realism.
However, Acute Misfortune manages to dig deeper than that, so that by the end of the film the audience will see a portrait of a man whose life they may or may not have known about, but by the end they will feel as if they know him through and through.
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