Creation (PG)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner4/12/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Impressively directed and well written, this is a thoughtful, extremely moving drama with terrific performances from Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, though it's less of a traditional biopic and more of a powerful and affecting portrait of a marriage undergoing the devastating effects of grief.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jon Amiel (TV's The Singing Detective) and based on the book Annie's Box (Randal Keynes' biography of his great-great-grandfather), Creation is set in the mid-1800s and stars Paul Bettany as Charles Darwin, who's struggling with both his faith and his relationship with his wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly, Bettany's real-life wife) following the tragic death of their adorable 10-year-old daughter Annie (Martha West). Darwin's crisis of faith is compounded by his own locked-away research for On the Origin of Species and he agonises over whether he should publish his theories of evolution, knowing full well the impact they could have on both science and religion.

The Good
Bettany is terrific as Darwin, in a performance that would surely net him an Oscar nomination if Darwin wasn't, somewhat terrifyingly, still regarded as a controversial figure by the religious right in the States (at the time of writing, Creation still doesn't have a US distributor). He's equally matched by Connelly - their real-life chemistry translates perfectly to the screen, creating an onscreen relationship that is extremely engaging and, ultimately, deeply moving.

There's also strong support from Martha West as Annie and solid supporting turns from both Jeremy Northam (as Reverend Innes, the local priest, with whom Darwin has an antagonistic relationship) and from Toby Young and Bendict Cumberbatch as Darwin's supportive friends.

The Great
The script is excellent, eschewing the traditional biopic cliches in favour of an intensely personal approach that works brilliantly and incorporates flashbacks, story-telling, fantasy and dream sequences, all of which flow together and culminate in a climax that's both dramatically and emotionally satisfying.

The film is also beautifully shot throughout and features a brilliant animated title sequence. The striking poster is also inspired – it features Darwin reaching out, Michelangelo-style, to the outstretched hand of an orang-utan (whose scene-stealing appearances are particular highlights).

Worth seeing?
Imaginative and powerfully emotional, Creation is a superbly directed biopic with an intelligent script and terrific central performances from Bettany and Connelly. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 19/04/2019 03:40

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