Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, Jeremy Northam and Martha West

Rated: PG-13 intense thematic material
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: January 22, 2010 Released by: Newmarket Films

There's some difficulty in pulling off something as ambitious as "the biggest single idea in the history of thought" on a cinematic level. But, director Jon Amiel (The Singing Detective) brings a certain amount of humanity and creativity to the struggles of Charles Darwin some 150 years ago.

Creation stars Paul Bettany, (his real-life missus) Jennifer Connelly, and Jeremy Northam, and toils to stress importance of integrity from its admission to its revelation.

This period piece in the mid-19th Century posits Darwin, a focussed Bettany dealing with the death of his 10-year-old daughter Annie (Martha West) after a mysterious illness. In his research of variations of species over time, he's starting to compromise his own religious tenets and his relationship with his wife Emma, a somewhat stiff Connelly, as the past, his friends, and personal hardship bring out the best in him.

John Collee's adaptation of the biography "Annie's Box" centers on the quandry faced by Darwin as he secures his work over a period of two decades with flashbacks, as well as recreated bedtime tales, dreams, and time-lapse moments (one with an orangutan). Mostly before the publication of his insight into the controversial natural selection in "On the Origin of Species" Darwin's theory is aided from experiences like an expedition aboard The Beagle.

If the drama unfolds in a trite, strained manner, then Creation battles through its characters to manifest the delicacy from nature and marriage to religion and science. Bettany and Connelly (who has the long-suffering wife down pat) nicely obsfucate the resilency of what a couple like theirs is going through with a bit of capriciousness. On the other hand backup from Northam as a reverend, as well as those like Toby Jones (W, Infamous) and Benedict Cumberbatch may seem too shrill and simplistic.

Amiel works with his production staff with less lavishness as his designer and lenser effectively evoke a time and place. Bettany (probably more recognized for more mainstream fare like The Da Vinci Code and the concurrent wild post-apocalyptic Legion) brings some fluidity and balance to a role that needs to be decently shaded. And, if the filmmakers make it all too distracting and not telling in the approach one begins to realize a beautifully wrenching mind at work.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Creation        C+                  C+ 

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