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Dark Matter (DVD Review)

6 Apr, 2009 By: Erika Carmona

Street 4/14/09
Universal/Screen Media
Box Office $0.03 million
$24.98 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for a scene of violence, brief sexual content and language.
Stars Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn, Ye Liu.

Sundance Film and Alfred P. Sloan Prize winner Dark Matter tells the tale of a brilliant Chinese student (Ye Liu of Blood Brothers) whose greatest ambition is to win a Nobel Prize on his cosmology discoveries and fulfill the American Dream. But Liu discovers that everything is easier said than done.

Liu studies under Dr. Reiser (Aidan Quinn of Legends of the Fall), and their relationship begins as one of mentor and student. But Liu soon encounters the dark side of school politics when he is told his advanced findings in the cosmology field are too extraordinary for a young foreigner such as himself. He faces vast culture differences and is told the conditions to which he must adhere if he wishes to be successful.

However, it’s not all dark and serious. Meryl Streep’s performance as Joanna Silver, an elite local patron, brings a sweet touch to the film. In contrast to Quinn, Streep has a motherly and nurturing side. She’s respectful and educated about the Chinese culture, which allows her to bond with Liu and create some tender scenes.

Though the film’s pacing is slow, it symbolizes elements of Chinese culture. For instance, the story consists of five stages: fire, earth, water, metal and wood, which in Chinese philosophy are considered to be the five elements to different types of energy. This could be understood as the different stages to Liu’s developing character.

Less clever are the film’s exaggerated special effects and numerous attempts at foreshadowing.

Dark Matter, based on actual events, allows the audience to take a deeper look into the harsh reality of assimilation in the attempt to pursue the American Dream. An unexpected ending just makes this movie that much more appealing.

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