30 Mar

Title: Creation
Year: 2009
Director: Jon Amiel
Writer: John Collee
Starring: Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, Jeremy Northam, Toby Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch
MPAA Rating: PG-13, some intense thematic material
Runtime: 108 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%

Creation has real-life spouses Bettany and Connelly play husband and wife on-screen as they tackle the roles of Charles and Emma Darwin, and even though Amiel’s directing eye is splendid, and Bettany’s performance is nothing short of spectacular the film as a whole lacks the fire one needs from these biopics for them to really stand out.

I’m not crazy about this film, were it not for Bettany’s performance I would have probably ended up saying kind of bad things about it. But alas, Bettany is there, I love this guy’s work, go on to read every review I’ve ever done about a movie he’s been in and you’ll find praise for his performance even if the film sucked, and in Creation it’s no different.

He plays Charles Darwin, perhaps the most important scientist in history, he who created the theory of natural selection, effectively defining evolution and changing the way the world thought. At the time he had his fair share of challengers, it was, after all, the middle of the 19th century and the Church had a huge say in things, and offering the theory Darwin offered would obviously get you an opponent or two.

Emma, his wife, was one of those people that was with the church, she thought God had created men, and didn’t believe what her own husband was proposing. The film exposes how Darwin’s discoveries challenged his marriage, a marriage which lasted over five decades and spawned ten children.

I quite like biopics, but the problem with them, especially when it deals with such a heavy subject matter, is that it goes all Hollywood on them and dramatizes an element to draw in audiences and looses the essence of the story. In Creation it dramatizes the romantic side of it all and loses the scientific part, I’m no science geek and I quite like my romance, but still, it robs the film of something.

I like though how the film portrayed the inner battles Darwin had upon considering going public with his findings, delaying its publication so as to avoid the turmoil it would cause, but finally opting to reveal it because the world had to know what he knew, Amiel tackles this side of the story beautifully, with enough depth so that we can feel for him, but showing some restraint so that we don’t get caught up in it all and can pay attention to the other side of the story, problem is the other side of the story isn’t that well developed.

Creation in the end fails to illustrate the life of Darwin as we wanted it to be shown, it’s not an entirely illuminating portrait of the man, it is a decent drama about a conflicting man and his wife but it fails to shine a light on the deep history that lies behind it, and I want biopics to do that. But nevertheless, it boasts a solid direction and a tremendous performance, and that makes it more than bearable.

Grade: C+


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