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DVD Review

DVD cover

Dark Matter


Starring): Liu Ye, Aidan Quinn and Meryl Streep
High Fliers Films
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 08 August 2011

Liu Xing is among a group of gifted students from Beijing who wins a scholarship to research under the renowned cosmologist Professor Jacob Reiser at the Valley State University in Salt Lake City, USA. Hailing from humble origins, he is soon singled out by the professor as a name for the future, and his present protégé. Liu is friendly and polite, but is initially unsure of himself; however, he is guided in certain aspects by university patron Joanna Silver and, with his abilities confirmed, grows in confidence. The group, under the leadership of Reiser, are attempting to create a model of the origins of the universe, but Liu’s obsessive passion is the exploration of dark matter. When his computations and theories begin to challenge those of Reiser, the professor is jealous, and regresses his further progress by refusing the student’s thesis for a PhD, so that he fails to graduate. It is then that Liu Xing’s world falls down around him...

Let me begin by having, what it increasingly becoming, an all too common moan. I was sent a hastily copied DVD-R disc with no retail (or even rental) packaging whatsoever. This is infuriating and somewhat insulting to a reviewer. Are you listening, Media Communications Ltd? Discs are sent out to be objectively viewed for publicity purposes. Treat us with some respect. How are we supposed to comment on the packaging presentation or know if there are any special features, when all we are thrown is a cheap, disc with the basic time signature film dragged on to it? We are not all shady suitcase villains, ready at a moments notice to run off a million copies for our own selfish gratification. That said, let’s talk about the film itself.

Dark Matter is said to be based on real life events in 1991. If you don’t already know what took place, I won’t reveal it here because it might tarnish the surprise of the shock ending. This is essentially the heartbreaking story of how somebody’s successful life can take an overnight spiral into disaster. Right from the outset, it’s impossible not to be drawn in by the extremely enthusiastic portrayal of Liu Xing by Liu Ye. The fact that he’s friendly, funny, polite, intelligent and talented - an all-round nice guy - makes it all the more of a blow when it all goes awry. The lesson in life is all so profound, because you rail inside at the injustice of the situation. Even the student who readily submits to American culture to progress, forsaking his own, rubs salt in an early wound.

So, this is powerful stuff; an example of when keeping it simple works best. Oh, and don’t be concerned that you will be obliged to understand dark matter (who does, anyway?), because it’s just as much a play on words for the key plot points.


Ty Power

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