Solid historical drama puts a human face on 19th-century English naturalist Charles Darwin (well played by Paul Bettany) in the years leading up to the publication of his epochal book, On the Origin of Species. He and his wife (Jennifer Connelly, also perfect for the role) have a flock of children, and loving father Darwin raises them to be as inquisitive and skeptical as he is – despite the fact that his theories of evolution and natural selection clash with Mrs. Darwin’s pious Christianity. If anything, writer John Collee’s screenplay (adapted from the biography by Darwin descendant Randal Keynes) pays a little too much foreshadowing attention to the controversy Darwin unleashed with his findings. But what else would we expect from the cultural bombshell the filmmakers call “the biggest single idea in the history of thought”? Directed ably by veteran Jon Amiel (108 min.).
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