Starring Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, and Jeremy Northam
Directed by Jon Amiel (The Core)
Rated PG-13 for some intense thematic material
Opens at the Angelika Film Center on February 12
Appropriate for ages 15+

    Creation tells the story of Charles Darwin and how he came to publish The Origin of Species, the book that introduced to the world the theory of evolution.  Haunted by the death of his daughter, pressured by a very religious wife that doesn’t wish for him to publish, and tortured by the thought of how God might judge him should he complete his work, Darwin pushes on like a confused and tormented soul.  

    The life of Charles Darwin is a very interesting one, especially told with some of these elements present here.  The dilemma is that the way this picture is put together is so melodramatic, confusing, and poorly paced that it takes away from the elements of the story that work so well.  I’m sure Darwin’s life was was tough, but this film shows it to be nothing short of devastating and depressing.  And the storytelling is so hard to follow at times, going back and forth between past, present, and scenes involving he and his dead daughter, that you leave exhausted just thinking about it.  Trying to be clever or innovative certainly did not pay off in this case.  

    What I did like about the story is Darwin’s guilt over what kind of revolution he may set off with his book.  In modern-day we often see Darwin as the father of atheism and that is simply not true.  I remember arguing with my Zoology professor in college with my highlighted copy of Origins that Darwin, while not exactly a preacher, showed evidence of a belief pattern that was far from negating the existence of God.  This movie represents forces in his life pushing him in that direction, but a real dread of that conviction.

    As far as Darwin as a naturalist, I much prefer to think of him as Bettany did in his role as the Galapagos visiting doctor in Master and Commander to this more historically correct figure, if it is indeed more correct.  C+