I laughed out loud when I heard that writer/director Michael Almereyda’s bizarre biopic “Tesla” was inspired by “certain episodes of Drunk History” (quote from his interview at Sundance, which is 100% true).

Nikola Tesla is one of the most mysterious while influential person in history. Our world is driven by the technologies that shall tribute to his brilliant mind, yet we barely know him. The reason behind it is because of the competition between him and Thomas Edison. There’s a disappointing, formulaic movie “The Current War” told the story already last year.

Almereyda’s “Tesla” does not play safe. It’s electrifying, experimental and fantastic. For most audiences, the film is tough to swallow but also interesting and compelling than conventional biopics.

There’re lots of bold and bizarre scenes throughout the film. A narrator used MacBook, Google Search and projector guide us the story with fourth-wall-breaking; Edison played with his smartphone at the pub, and a karaoke scene featured Tesla singing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears.

These may sound crazy and nonsense, but they actually make sense and provoking at some points. Perhaps we all connect with Tesla at some different levels – physically and emotionally. 

Almereyda’s film is like digging into Tesla’s brain (I’m thinking of the weirdness of “Being John Malkovich” sort of feeling), experiencing how he saw the universe centuries ago. 

We all connect with each other at different levels in the past, present and future. “Tesla” is romantically madness yet it’s rewarding and groundbreaking. It’s one of the most memorable biopics in recent years.

GRADE: B

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  • Distributor: IFC Films (Opening in theaters and VOD August 21)
  • Production: Passage Pictures, Campbell Grobman Films, Millennium Media, Intrinsic Value Films, and Jeff Rice Films
  • Director: Michael Almereyda
  • Writer: Michael Almereyda
  • Cast: Ethan Hawke, Eve Hewson, Kyle MacLachlan, Jim Gaffigan, and Donnie Keshawarz