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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this thought-provoking drama doesn’t focus much on the nature of Charles Darwin’s research but instead on the lengthy and overwrought process he undergoes to write his famous book, On the Origin of Species. Characters debate God and religion intensely and are torn apart by grief surrounding a child's death -- themes that might be too weighty for young teens and tweens. There’s also some swearing (mostly words like "bulls--t") and brief scenes of non-sexual nudity.
What's the story?
Inspired by Annie's Box, a book by Charles Darwin’s (Paul Bettany) descendant Randal Keynes, CREATION depicts a lively, conflicted, and deeply faithful scientist -- a multi-dimensional portrait that’s often capsized by intellectual debate over his evolutionary theories -- juggling work, family life, and strife. The film follows him before his famous ,book, On the Origin of Species, is published, and he’s deeply haunted. He fears what will happen between him and his deeply religious wife, Emma (Jennifer Connelly), if he shares his findings with the world. More important, he’s broken by the death of his spirited daughter, Annie (Martha West), who shares his fascination with the natural world.
Is it any good?
Creation’s jumbled time structure sometimes poses a challenge, and a few scenes border on overlong, but there’s plenty left to gratify demanding audiences. It's widely accepted that Charles Darwin was brilliant, but not many are aware of how loving he was. Creation isn’t simply about the great naturalist’s deep inquiry into the genesis of all creatures great and small; it’s also about loss. And it’s the better for it. Yes, we see Darwin hard at work on his book and weighing its existential significance, but what leaves a weighty impression aren’t his discoveries, but how his daughter's death leaves him palpably bereft. Few of the fittest can survive such heartbreak.
For this, the audience has Bettany to thank. He holds nothing back; his struggle is achingly believable. The camera loves his real-life partner, Connelly, too, but she’s too inscrutable, not specific enough. (It makes for a slight imbalance in the film.) As Annie, West is all vim and delight, very much her father’s daughter, which makes her demise that much more painful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Charles has such a difficult time writing his famous book. What keeps him from working? What haunts him?
Some people take exception to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Have your kids ever encountered a discussion about the differing viewpoints? Ask your kids what they think and why they believe what they do.
How does the film address the subjects of faith and religion? Are they depicted as one and the same or different? Is it ever difficult to talk about faith and religion in your family?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.