Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dark Matter: Grade C

Dark Matter (2007)
Meryl Streep, Le Yiu, Aidan Quinn; Director Shi-Zheng Chen.

Le Yiu is one of a group of students from China who come to America for doctoral research in cosmology under a famous teacher (Quinn). Streep is a social facilitator who helps the students find their feet in the new culture. Le Yiu is a brilliant mathematician but proposes a thesis that goes against the professor’s pet theory so he does not get his Ph.D. and becomes depressed.

Nothing much happens in this movie. The dramatic turns are tense to anyone with advanced academic experience, but pretty boring to everyone else. Exploration of the Chinese students’ cross-cultural experience is realistic and insightful. The highlight of the movie is outstanding acting from Streep and Le Yiu. Their expressions seem real and heartfelt and make the movie worth seeing. However, since nothing happens until the very end, the movie is basically boring. And the ending was obviously an afterthought. It rings false, inconsistent with the character. Photography, directing, and music are all good, and the acting raises the picture to the high end of average.

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