Published Sep 15, 2009You'd think that coming up with one of the most revolutionary ideas in science would be easy. Creation, by British director Jon Amiel, documents the life of Charles Darwin during the writing of On the Origin of Species in the mid 1800s. The book unveiled to the world his theory of evolution via natural selection, making him one of the most influential figures in the history of science.
But this wasn't just any old yellow brick road. Darwin (Paul Bettany) suffered from chronic poor health, which was worsened by stress and overworking. This made writing On the Origin of Species all the more difficult. While a good portion of Amiel's account of Darwin's life is accurate, he doesn't hesitate to add some of his own ornaments.
In the film, Darwin struggles against pressure from his God-fearing wife, Emma (Jennifer Connelly), and unresolved grief over his deceased young daughter, Annie. He suffers from delusional visions of Annie (Martha West), while avoiding his remaining four children and letting his relationship with his wife deteriorate.
Bettany is fitting in the role of Darwin, handling the back-and-forth flashes between the happy and the unhealthy Darwin with skill. West is a pleasant surprise and delivers a charming performance in the role of Annie. The only thing missing is a sense of emotion from Connelly's stone cold Emma. Despite being a married couple in the real world, Bettany and Connelly fail to produce any kind of spark on screen. Maybe it's the fact that Darwin and Emma were first cousins. After all, Darwin figured out evolution but didn't know about genes.
Creation is your classic biopic drama; it's also a tearjerker, so don't forget the tissues. Well-paced and with a more-or-less consistently engaging plot, it takes a look at the father of modern biology that most of us haven't seen before. It also reminds us of an important lesson: just because someone's a genius doesn't mean they don't have problems as well. (D Films)