Creation - movie review
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So with nary a swashbuckler in sight, Creation looks to Darwin’s daunting task of turning a lifetime of observations into a book that will effectively renounce the dominion of God. Such dire religious ramifications result in Darwin psychosomatically torturing himself; sickly and seeing things, his protracted writing process stalls until he faces the personal tragedy that is alienating him from his wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly). This psychological journey subsumes the seminal manuscript The Origin of Species, as an increasingly atheist husband and his deeply devout wife orbit each other, locked into their separate spheres of grief.
It’s easy to see why real life couple Bettany and Connelly would be attracted to such a densely layered look at marriage. Their scenes benefit from an obvious intimacy, and the weighty subject matter is explored with a naturalism that may not have been evoked in different hands. Both give themselves over to their roles, with Bettany hauntingly tormented and Connolly grounding the film with her steely stoicism. Director Jon Amiel is also the man behind Sommersby, so he knows a thing or two about costume dramas and playing for good, old-fashioned (in the truest sense of the term) sexual tension.
(Spoiler alert) However, one can’t help but note Creation’s similarities to the film that brought Bettany and Connelly together: A Beautiful Mind. Both are burdened with the thankless task of making a cerebral exercise cinematically interesting, and both revolve around a psychological affliction (though the causes are drastically different) that drives the film’s action. This is also where the film falls flat. Martha West’s Annie Darwin is too cheerily one note and Amiel far too often relies upon the arduously clichéd device: ‘and-then-he-woke-up’.
(Spoiler free) Like the best of breeds, then, Creation is somewhat of a mixed bag. Great lead performances, unobtrusive period production design and confident temporal shifts can all be well received. For writers, there’s something satisfying about seeing the profession’s inherent torment and the tyranny of the blank page writ large.
There’s also an impossibly cute, scene stealing orangutan called Jenny.
But while Creation is at times an evocative look at grief and the vicissitudes of marriage, at others it’s overly sentimental. As a biography it is certainly a different take on Darwin, but it may well leave audiences clamouring for more science.
Creation opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday, July 15.
You can view the Creation movie trailer here on TheVine.
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