Tesla review: a weird, fourth-wall-breaking take on the internet’s favorite inventor

Ethan Hawke in Tesla

Sundance Institute

Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. This review comes from the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

Thomas Edison is the inventor you learn about in school. Nikola Tesla is the inventor you learn about on the internet — whether that’s The Oatmeal’s massive 2012 paean to “the greatest geek who ever lived;” Kate Beaton’s sexy Tesla comic; or the Drunk History episode where he’s played by John C. Reilly. (That’s not even counting the memes about Elon Musk’s car company and David Bowie in The Prestige.)

Tesla, directed by Michael Almereyda, adds one very important thing to this canon: a full-length rendition of the inventor (played by Ethan Hawke) singing the Tears for…

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