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CREATION

Director: JON AMIEL

U.K. • 2009 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 35MM • 110 MIN


HIS THEORY OF EVOLUTION MAY BE AMONG THE MOST SIGNIFICANT IDEAS IN THE HISTORY OF HUMAN THOUGHT, BUT THIS INCISIVE BIOPIC REMINDS US HOW LITTLE MOST OF US KNOW ABOUT CHARLES DARWIN THE MAN.

Adapted from the book Annie’s Box written by his great-great grandson Randal Keynes, the picture here is of a scientist whose personal life is almost destroyed by the enormity of his own discovery. Back home in the English countryside, years after his voyages in the South Seas, Paul Bettany’s Darwin has actually been putting off writing On the Origin of Species because he knows his theories will hurt his religious, dearly beloved wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly, the off-screen Mrs Bettany as well). Meanwhile, he’s also haunted by the memory of the beloved daughter the couple lost to pneumonia — and since he no longer has a God to pray to, what resources does he have to fall back on?

Director Jon Amiel does well throughout to stop the film getting bogged down in the despondency which obviously afflicted Darwin himself, instead moving nimbly back and forth in time to startling effect, using stop-motion to bring Darwin’s ideas visually to life, and daringly making his visions of his dead daughter a key part of the story. Bettany has a delightfully light touch in the family scenes but he leaves us in no doubt of the character’s inner turmoil, while Connelly’s resilience never turns fustian. Awed by Darwin’s fundamentally humanitarian compassion, yet never blind to the comforts of faith, this is a surefire end of year awards contender. See it here first. — Trevor Johnston.

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