The film is about the professor, James Murray played by Mel Gibson, who in 1879 began compiling the first comprehensive edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, (aiming to find the first usage of, continued usage of, correct spelling and correct pronunciation of every single word) a task led the overseeing committee, and Doctor William Minor played by Sean Penn, a doctor who submitted over 10,000 entries while he was undergoing treatment at Broadmoor Criminal a Lunatic Asylum, London.
There was something very gripping about this based on true events film. We see the hidden power of women behind these men, as well as the blind patronising manner of those in authority. Not only the Overseeing Committee and it’s inner politics but also the medical officer at Broadmoor.
The story behind the story that brings these people (and so many others) together is the true glue. The kindness of the guards when the Doc helps one of them who is injured, saving his life. The anguish of the wife of the man Dr Minor shot dead accidentally one fateful night. The family support and strength of the Professor. The Committee members supporting and dropping allegiances at the drop of a hat.
The one thing above anything that spoilt this film, was not Mel Gibson’s Scottish accent, but the diction and clarity of Sean Penn’s American one. There were numerous times where due to his gravely tone and quiet manner it was almost impossible to hear what he was saying and I nearly resorted to subtitles.