Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dark Matter

My last review (Nobel Son) was about a Nobel Prize winning professor.  Dark Matter follows the story of a Nobel Prize hopeful, a Chinese student studying cosmology in the U.S.  Liu Xing (Ye Liu) comes to the U.S. to study under Professor Reiser (Aidan Quinn).  His hopes are dashed when Reiser, who enviously recognizes Liu Xing's talent and genius, rejects his dissertation proposal.  It didn't help that the proposal would have been a leap ahead of Reiser's work.  Liu Xing is devastated, and cannot find a way to rebuild and move on, with tragic results.

Meryl Streep, the wife of a benefactor of the university where Reiser teaches, befriends the Chinese students, who meet at the church.  This part was pretty funny: An earnest pastor was attempting to share the word of God with these scientists, but they were far more interested in the snacks that had been prepared. Then when Streep shows up for the outing to an old west park of some kind, the preacher's words were long forgotten.  It made me wonder about American churches' outreach to international students.  One student who had been around a bit longer whispered to a new student about the many benefits of hanging around the church people.  Streep and the pastor seem naive but pure-hearted in their efforts.

I love the realism of this movie.  Besides the church scene, the movie gives a real sense of the struggles of these Chinese students adjusting to life in the U.S. while maintaining a connection to their home.  They discuss the lure of going to work in a high-paying corporate job versus the pursuit of pure science.  Liu Xing's letters home to Mom and Dad poignantly reveal his desire to succeed and make not only them but his homeland proud.

Streep's performance is fabulous, as you might expect, but Ye Liu's eclipes hers.

Bottom line, 2 1/2 stars.

No comments: