BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JULY 10, 2010
Period pieces are in a world all their own. My thoughts are that in order to direct a period piece, you truly have to be infatuated with the piece or the period to take on the challenge. Jon Amiel was one of those directors and “Creation” is one of those films I could potentially see up for an Oscar come Academy Awards season.
The elements of the film are all correct: the cast, the cinematography, the story, and the set design. Paul Bettany acts as the star, playing monumental historical figure Charles Darwin, in the days leading up to the writing of his first book “On The Origins of Species.” Between the passing of his daughter and the fighting of his own sickness, there are enough elements against Darwin to add some truly enchanting performances from Bettany.
The cinematography in “Creation” is phenomenal. The scenes that steal the show are the hydrotherapy sequences with Bettany (and later his daughter Annie (Martha West)) being barraged with gallons and gallons of water, expressing his (and their) true anguish. With great visuals and amazing performances, these scenes will literally take your breath away.
The story of “Creation” is simple; tell me the untold story about Darwin. Of course we know Darwin’s name is synonymous with creationism and the Galapagos Islands, but what was he like, did he have a family, and was he always so gun-ho about detesting the Church? The plot of “Creation” takes into account Darwin’s life before his book being published and the hardships he faces with his wife, who is a devout church goer, his love for his daughter, who he clearly favors over the others, and his struggle to write his crowning achievement in the midst of anguish and suffering. The stories that Bettany tells as Darwin are fantastic and give you an insight into the days before the idea of creationism and where Darwin was coming from, especially the story involving the orangutan captured for the zoo.
The sets and costumes of the film are as you would expect and only enhance the overall quality of the film.
Jennifer Connolly delivers a subtle performance. Though she is not the main character, she practically coincides with Bettany’s performance by supplementing him in only a way that she can.
“Creation” screams “award winning” as I truly hope it does win some sort of award. After a lackluster showing in “Legion” from Bettany, it is nice to see him back in a period piece, just as he brought grace to “The Young Victoria” earlier this year and “A Knight’s Tale” almost a decade ago. If period pieces or Charles Darwin have ever peaked your interest, this film will, by far, not disappoint.
January 21, 2010
“Annie’s Box” by Randal Keynes
(for some intense thematic material)