DRAMA; 1hr 48min
STARRING: Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly
A house divided: Connelly and Bettany
On the Origin of Species, the revolutionary 1859 book by Charles Darwin (Bettany), is a torment for the English naturalist to write in director Jon Amiel’s Creation. Its core belief in the evolutionary process of natural selection flies defiantly in the face of religious creationism, which teaches that God is the architect of all things. Not only does it take some nerve to stick it to pervading opinion, but Darwin’s wife, Emma (Connelly, Bettany’s real-life wife), is intensely devout and at odds with his ideas. Plus, he is mourning the death of their 10-year-old daughter, Annie (new-girl charmer Martha West). Sickened by anxiety, Darwin struggles to finish what he started.
Screenwriter John Collee’s illuminating adaptation of the 2001 book Annie’s Box, by Darwin’s great-great-grandson Randal Keynes, circles this key period of the great trailblazer’s life, contrasting the vibrant soul he was with the ravaged shadow he became. Bettany makes an accessible and ultimately pitiable Darwin whose renegade brilliance weighs heavily and who in the lonely grip of a father’s grief is, after all, only human.