Hemingway & Gellhorn
1936. Ernest Hemingway instantly falls for young novelist and magazine writer Martha Gellhorn when they meet at Sloppy Joe’s, a Key West bar. At an evening gathering at Hemingway’s house, Gellhorn is inspired to cover the Spanish Civil War as a correspondent for Collier’s Weekly. Hitching a ride on an armored tank, she arrives at the Hotel Florida in Madrid. Hemingway, who has left behind his wife Pauline and their two sons, is already there to shoot a film, The Spanish Earth, about the struggle to defeat Fascism. Gellhorn accompanies Hemingway and the crew as they film gun fights, but she grapples with what to write. When bombs begin to land in the city, Gellhorn finds her voice, and Hemingway says Gellhorn is “the bravest woman I ever saw.” Their tumultuous love affair begins.
After the war, Hemingway and Gellhorn start a new life together in Cuba, though Hemingway is still married and his wife Pauline, a devout Catholic, refuses to agree to a divorce. When Collier’s offers Gellhorn a job to cover the Russian invasion of Finland, Hemingway wants her to stay, but she is compelled to go. In their passionate correspondences, Hemingway and Gellhorn vow to never leave each other again. She arrives home to find her beloved villa in total disarray from Hemingway’s partying. But Hemingway has a surprise, proudly displaying signed divorce papers from Pauline. Gellhorn, who never wanted to marry, reluctantly consents to becoming his third wife.
As the Japanese invade China, Gellhorn is offered an assignment to do an interview with Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek and the “Empress of China,” Madame Chiang. After some cajoling by Gellhorn to consider it a honeymoon, Hemingway grudgingly agrees to accompany her. While there, they are blindfolded and taken by boat to a secret meeting with Communist leader Chou En-lai, whom they believe to be the wave of the future.
Back in Cuba, Hemingway spends more and more of his time drinking with cronies. A restless Gellhorn wants to cover the Allied invasion in Europe, but Hemingway wants her home. Their frequent quarrels reach a tipping point when Hemingway secures himself a position to cover the invasion – for Collier’s. The resourceful Gellhorn goes anyway, talking her way onto a hospital ship bound for Omaha Beach. Meanwhile, Hemingway meets a woman named Mary Welsh in a London pub. A drunk-driving accident lands him in the hospital and Gellhorn, back from France, arrives to find a bandaged Hemingway entertaining his friends, with Welsh cozying up to to him. Hemingway asks Gellhorn sarcastically, “What are you doing here?” She responds, “I guess I just stopped by for a divorce.”
Time passes and Hemingway’s life descends into paranoia and depression. He commits suicide in 1961. Years later, Gellhorn, who has continued to cover major world conflicts, defiantly tells a TV news crew that she isn’t “a footnote in someone else’s life,” before heading off with her weathered backpack for the next great conflict.