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Stars: Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, Jeremy Northam, Martha West, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Jim Carter

Director: Jon Amiel

Ostensibily a film about Charles Darwin (Bettany) writing his groundbreaking Origin of the Species, this is more a story of grief - namely Darwin's over the death of his favourite daughter; it's also about the stories he tells her of creatures put into environments where they don't belong.

Occasional anachronisms - 'Now that we have a bit of clout' - further cloudy the effect of the story, although Bettany is outstanding as Darwin, overshadowing real-life wife Connelly's too cool and clipped portrayal of his wife Emma - although admittedly there's not a lot to the part apart from a requirement to look intense.

West, a typical toothy British moppet in the Mandy Miller/Janette Scott tradiition, is engaging as the doomed daughter, one of 10 Darwin children who seem to have been somewhat reduced in this rather dry account of his life.

David Quinlan

UK 2009. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour by deluxe.
110 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 19 Sep 2009