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Where's the Richard P. Feynman we all knew and loved?
Clive-Silas4 December 2001
This was a very worthy project of the Brodericks, mother and son, and one which I would have liked to have tackled myself, having read and greatly enjoyed both "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" and "What Do You Care What Other People Think?". To concentrate on the deep love story between Feynman and his first wife Arline, which coincided with his work on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, was, I feel, a good filmic move in order to give the story an anchor (not to mention the fact that it truly is one of the most romantic real love stories I've ever heard of). Every movie adaptation has to make sacrifices, and this one obviously had to sacrifice all the other interesting stuff that happened to Feynman in the years after the war. So I don't have a problem with the quality of the script, and they also had a big enough budget to get the period feel.

However, this film falls down in a major way on the characterisation of its lead character. Surprisingly, for Broderick is not a bad actor, he just comes across as being Broderick - a good looking young man who can look lovingly at Patricia Arquette and add a bit of passion to his voice when explaining complicated physics. But we've all seen the real Feynman on television and in film - he was LARGER than life! He was intensely charismatic, a brilliant expositor of scientific ideas and a great teacher.

It seems to me that instead of succumbing to the temptation of directing, that Broderick should really have got someone else direct, so that he could concentrate on really getting inside the head of Feynman and reproducing on screen some of that charisma - something I'm quite sure Broderick is capable of doing.

So ultimately this is a missed opportunity. You learn some of the facts about what happened, but you don't really meet the real Richard P. Feynman.
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A gem of a small movie, told with gentleness and feeling
tmehle20 February 2003
A caution: this review reveals details of the movie.

The movie "Infinity", stars Matthew Broderick who portrays the Nobel-prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. Broderick also co-produced and directed the movie. Keeping it in the family, the screenplay was written by Matthew's mother, Patricia Broderick. The other major role, that of Feynman's first wife Arline Greenbaum, was played by Patricia Arquette.

Infinity is not a documentary about a phase in the life of Feynman the scientist, my expectation. My first impression as the movie unfolded was disappointment. I have been intrigued by Feynman the physicist and scientist since I purchased his Quantum Mechanics lectures trilogy in 1968. As the movie progressed, I saw that it isn't a movie about science; it is a movie about the heart. The point of this movie is to portray Feynman the person, and his relationship to the love of his life, Arline Greenbaum; in this it succeeds wonderfully.

A few years back, while reading one of Feynman's books, I ran across a passage which made a big impression. Feynman wrote that his children, who were raised in private schools and visited home only during holidays, were known well enough to him that if he were to meet one on the street, he would probably recognize that person as his child. That statement helped convince me to move from academia to the business world, making becoming a better father and husband my top priority. After seeing this movie, I better understand Feynman the person. The tragic loss of his first wife probably produced a life-long desire to hold personal relationships at a distance, and to make research and teaching his top priorities.

Broderick does an impressive job of directing the film. Just one example: at the moment of the death of his wife, my expectation was for there to be intrusive weepy violins. Instead, the moment moved through silence, making a more powerful statement. That scene reminded me of George Burns pulling down his shoe box of old photos from the top shelf of his closet, and looking at them quietly in "Going in Style", a scene which packed an emotional punch without resorting to violins.

There is another dimension to the two Brodericks' intelligence which surprised me: they did not botch the physics, what little there was. Nearly every Hollywood movie which has an opportunity to do so, gets the science wrong... having space ships produce impressive sounds as they move through the vacuum of space, for example. Matthew Braderick as Feynman explains beta decay to his wife using olives from his lunch in an approach worthy of the real Feynman. Also, Feyman's father explanation of inertia, in which he differentiated between being able to name it and describe it, which he could do, and understanding the "why" of it, which no one could do, was a "deep" understanding of science which Broderick portrayed with sympathy and understanding. By staying away from complex mathematics and the physics that could have been incorporated into this story, to the delight of the geeks of the world, Broderick created a movie that is accessible to all.

"Infinity" is a gem of a small movie, a love story, a true story, told with gentleness and feeling; a movie which does not overreach itself. I strongly recommend it.
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Broderick Son-Mother Duo Combines To Make A Nice Film
ccthemovieman-19 October 2006
This was kind of a strange, low-key movie, one that isn't going to get a lot of attention, especially with a younger audience which wants anything but a slow- moving story. But, whatever your age, if you want simply a nice movie, you have one here.

Other reviewers here have gone into the details about the real-life persons this film is based on, so I will just make a few general comments I had while watching this.

First, I enjoyed Matthew Broderick's narration. Broderick usually plays likable roles and is an underrated actor, I think. I've never seen him in a bad performance. Even though this story is an emotional one, I found little emotion in the film but that makes it intriguing in parts.

Sometime past the halfway mark, I asked myself, "What is the point of this story?" There is a point, and there is more than what meets the eye to this. Those who have seen this film know what I mean. I'm making vague statements, but I don't want to give away anything.

I enjoyed the 1940s look to this, appreciated Patricia Arquette's against-type role; appreciated the fact there were no villains in here and the profanity was low. As I said, it's a nice film and touching drama.

Broderick and his mother wrote, produced and directed this film.
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A Remarkable Human Rendering of the Scientist As A Human"
Allen J. Duffis (sataft-2)14 November 2004
There is very little more that I can add to the kudos for this film, other than utter praise. I can understand and I know. You see, I am one of these people, a Scientist.

We as a breed are seldom understood and, more often than not, badly served by cinema image. This film of the quiet, patient, dedicated love between two people, one of whom is a Scientist, is a milestone.

Might I add that I have always felt that Matthew Broderick is a fantastic actor, especially in roles that require an average looking, quiet introspective character. He is perfect for this cinematic vehicle, and equal to the talents of a Tom Hanks any day. I was also impressed that he produced, directed and shared writing credits on this film project.
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goblinhairedguy8 April 2003
For fans of Feynman's books, this will be a disappointment. Matthew Broderick's performance doesn't capture the fire, playfulness and wonder of Feynman's personality (as do documentaries of his lectures). Furthermore, his direction botches many of the anecdotes, missing the points of emphasis and undermining the quirky humour and sense of irony in the original telling. For example, in the Chinese abacus scene (which is shifted to a much earlier period in Feynman's life), Broderick has Feynman initiate the challenge, whereas in real life, it was the hapless abacus salesman who challenged him, completely unaware that he was taking on a renowned physicist. Therefore, the sense of irony, and of Feinman's idiosyncrasy in the world of mere mortals, is lost. Only Patricia Arquette seems to have captured the essence of the memoirs, despite her often unintelligible dialogue.
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What can I say?
lje3267711 May 2003
I read the book, "What Do You Care What Other People Think" and did some research. From there I learned to respect the man. "Infinity" is a wonderful movie. It shows a real love story between two people. Feynman's desire to marry Arlene, even though she was ill, shows dedication to principles that are wanting in our society. This wasn't an easy thing.

Then there is the personal story of his work on the Manhattan Project. He was a practical physicist, who brought the science down to "our" level. Who can forget his demonstration of the "O-Ring" failure from the Shuttle Challenger. This approach changed my perception of the science and I learned to love physics.

So, yes, I recommend this movie.

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Very Disappointing
rbanerji22 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I'm at odds with this film. I first launched myself into physics because of the books that feynman wrote (well, spoke) and i received the full set of the feynman lectures before i started college.

Matthew Broderick has always been one of my favorite actors. I liked his nerdiness and i could relate. So he was one of my reasons for deciding to branch off from physics and start a film career.

In the end, though, i see why i always have a little regret for not sticking with physics. Film could never fully realize what it means to be in love with science. I understand that Feynman loved his wife, but he loved everything, that's what made her so important, he could never tire of learning to look. just like her.

But this film really doesn't get that across. Plus, instead of relying on smart direction and good editing they give the game away in the opening titles, which are ridiculously lame.

**SPOILER** (please it's a real story go read the book)

The intercut to the parallel line of the Trinity test explosion is a neat idea, but ultimately poorly executed and timed. But i see where they were going. But they missed it. Because the explosion for feynman is when he sees the dress, not when she dies. remember that great advice, you can call it whatever you want in a thousand languages but that doesn't mean you know it. When feynman sees the dress, he *knows* what it means for arlene to die. He can't share with her anymore, that is what her death *is*. and that should have been the point. you've got to learn what a thing is before you can tell someone else. Feynman was a great man, but he had his flaws. However, the number of people he has influenced is incredible. And i'm glad that somebody made a film about him. However, Feynman's clipped style of speech, what made him so unique and distinct, is not available to the viewer and it cheapens it.

I'm sorry to say that i did not like this film. In fact, it made me a little angry to watch it and see my hero stripped of his unique story.
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85% of the time captures Feynman
violiner200023 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Infinity is not a masterpiece nor even great cinema (but do we hold it on account of that?), but it does have something that I really loved about it. I adore Richard Feynman, he being my favourite scientist and one of my two heroes (the other being Itzhak Perlman) to really try to aspire to be everything I can be. I think everyone should read his books (even his Physics lectures, even if you hate Physics. He makes everything worthwhile). Onto the film... The film starts out with the sweet, gentle relationship between father and son, taking direct quotes from Feynman's own novels (he actually didn't write them; they are accounted stories) Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman! and What Do YOU Care What Other People Think? and letters and such. It progresses through Richard's days in high school, to meeting Arline (that is the correct spelling) onto MIT and Princeton (pre Los Alamos). During this, my biggest complaint would be that the film moved way too fast. There were some lines ("Look I'm gorgeous") that were just beginning to show Feynman's character and his way with humour, but it plowed right through them onto the next scene. I think Broderick was so intent on keeping everything to the book, he forgot some very vital elements of what made "Richard Feynman" Richard Feynman. What really grasped Feynman's character was when the film steered into the direction of Feynman's days at Los Alamos (working on "the bomb") and Arline was at the sanatorium. The film showed just how much fun Arline had with Feynman and vice versa (I loved that the film included Feynman's birthday present from Arline!). It also showed the tenderness, yet sometimes almost "absent" love of Feynman. In Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Tack: the letters of Richard Feynman, he writes a letter to Arline before she dies telling her how he wished he would have been there for her more, loved her more, etc. I think the film really captures that, even before the book was published, Broderick had a sense of what Feynman was going through. He didn't really know how to handle his wife dying. Lastly, I loved how they implement Feynman's love of "drumming". It really didn't become an obsession until much later (when he went to Brazil after Arline's death), but the film shows the beginnings of a love that Feynman would love until his death (a number of his friends joked that he was going to spend his Nobel earnings on a new bongo drum). There were flashes of the Feynman people know and love, but it didn't really hold true at the beginning. One thing that seemed confusing was a brief snipet involving Broderick as Feynman hearing about a "baby". This is most likely in reference to a pregnancy scare that took place when Arline was in the sanatorium. They thought they'd have to abort the baby, but it turned out she was pregnant and that she was just malnourished because of her illness. They didn't explain that very well though. Next they need to make a film about his marriage to Gweneth and his later years winning the Nobel and working on the Challenger. Even though I don't act, I could play Gweneth! hahaha, yeah right.
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What a nice movie! Now go and read his books, they're not too long
pattay7222 May 2005
What a nice movie! If you do not know who Richard Feynman was, then this is a great way to be introduced. He was a brilliant, eccentric, witty scientist who came of age during the 1930s and 1940s. This movie doesn't show his entire life, just the parts that lead up to his involvement with the atomic bomb and the Manhattan Project during WWII. It's based on his books called 'What Do You Care What Other People Think?' and 'Surely You're Joking. Mr. Feynman!' The Movie doesn't deal with his actual scientific work so much as his unconventional approach to it. It also deals with his first marriage to Arline, who was very ill with systemic tuberculosis. The movie takes you from his childhood and university years to his marriage and time at the famous Los Alamos Lab. I think I liked this movie because it doesn't come out and tell you what to think, it just shows snippets of his life and how he overcomes the sad times with humor and grace. I can't say enough about this film. It's that good.
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A gentle love story, played against the backdrop of the development of the Atom bomb.
swedensm22 July 2003
It's not an exciting movie, but it's not meant to be. This movie is for thinkers. It's a real love story with someone who could have been your neighbor, set against a time when people were just recovering from the Depression and being forced into WW2.

I love what Broderick did with this film. In an age where people are jaded and "have" to be stimulated with action, big noises and blood to stay the boredom, he has given us a glimpse of a more innocent time -- maybe the last innocent time in American history -- and insight into the world of two very different people who obviously loved each other very much.

Congratulations Mr. Broderick and thank you for telling their story. I wish I had met them both.
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Damned with faint praise.
suzy q1233 June 2001
This movie is long and not very well made, but not offensively bad. Why is it when actors direct they love to have long long takes and scenes that don't go anywhere? The story of this man needs to be told, but in a bold and interesting way. This movie did it in a meek and 'decent' way, and it's a real shame. Patricia Arquette obviously wants to bring it some verve, and you kind of feel for her. Matthew Broderick has a lot on his plate, and perhaps should have turned over the directing to someone else. Someone who would've made a few cuts. I give it a 3 on a scale of 10.
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It's a loving look at the early life of Richard Feynman
Fisher L. Forrest2 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This takes you through the early life of Feynman to the end of the Manhattan project and the death of his wife from tuberculosis. One will note the irony that she died of the disease only a very few years before antibiotics could have saved her. The love story of man and wife is tenderly told and nicely photographed against various backgrounds including Bandolier Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico, near Los Alamos. The actual scientific work of Feynman and the others is referred to obliquely for the most part, sometimes in conversations between the couple. Critics have properly complained of the choppy editing and a tendency to wander off the subject into irrelevancies. But still, it's a lovely film about the sad, and busy, early life of a great physicist.
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The early life of physicist Richard Feynman
Lmbinc15 August 1998
Beautifully directed & cinematically stunning, the story revolved around a real individual who is involved in the Manhattan Project. The story - often faulted for the characters not behaving 'realistically' - follow quite faithfully the characters of Richard Feynman & his wife, the impact of the Manhattan Project on them, and her early death on him. Beautifully photographed. Worth watching for the evening desert scenes alone!
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FilmFancier16 July 1999
I first caught most of this film on T.V. I love Matthew Broderick, so I stopped to watch it. I was totally engrossed in this story, and couldn't pry myself away. It is a complicated movie, but I think Broderick did a wonderful job acting and directing. I think the thing that most captured me is not the story, but of how Broderick portrayed, Feyneman. His expressions represent his character better than any words spoken in the film. Broderick portrayed his character extremly well. He showed a man who was complicated and had many tough decisions to make, and did it to the best of his ability. On this alone, I give Infinity a 10 out of 10.
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Surely You Jest
tedg19 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Some theorists live in the world of their theories. If you are going to pay attention to people, these are the most worthwhile. And certainly if you are going to build a film around them, you have some pretty rich possibilities. That's because the best films - in my opinion - take you to an alternative world, and the world of these theorists is often wonderful indeed. Nash was one of these thinkers who lived in the world he created, which is why `Beautiful Mind' was such a disappointment.

Feynmen was a different sort of beast altogether. For him, the world was real, and he lived in it. He was among the best at forming elegant models and describing them to others, but it was all from the solid foundation of him in the real world. So a film about him in an artificial film world is not possible, which is why Broderick's approach is so apt. The problem is that if you focus on him as a person, he is a pretty ordinary person.

I suppose that's what the Brodericks wanted, a `small film' that they could manage. It is done well enough, especially the agent in disguise as an Indian. There's nothing wrong. It is just too slight.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 4: Has some interesting elements.
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A lovely look at a personal life behind world shaking events
MMc-31 December 2000
This is one of my all-time favorite films juxtaposing, as it does, world-shaking events with life-changing events. Broderick's take on Feynman gives us a small, loving, understated glimpse of one human story behind the Manhattan Project.

Highly recommended.
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As Elements have half-lives, this is half a movie
chitowndale14 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is a major disappointment to me. I looked forward to it after listening to many of Richard Feynman's Physics lectures. While doing a great job of showing the love between these two people, it totally misses out on showing Richard as a person unto himself. He is so unique that this is a massive oversight, to say the least. Despite his tragedy, I am sure he was just as irreverent and humorous during the Manhattan project as he was for the rest of his life. Yet only a couple of snippets show this irreverence and humor and even those are done badly. One is the repetitive exiting of the Los Alamos site to demonstrate the lousy security they had despite rigorous examination of everyone entering the site. The other was when he first met with the students in the data processing lab. That one too was far below what I'm sure the real Richard Feynman would have done, judging by how he treated his students in almost all of the lectures I have listened to.

So Broderick took a whole person and cut him in half, only showing the intimate portion of his life and relationship with his wife that he loved so dearly. He almost completely left out the public persona of the man and this hurts the movie so badly that it never really recovers from it. It makes it a poor movie when it could have been a great movie, right up there with A Beautiful Mind. That is why I rated it a 3 instead of an 8 or 9 like it could have been.
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Excellent film with solid acting and splendid photography
kmacgadams28 July 2006
Matthew Broderick should be remembered for this film alone! His directing is wonderful and he manages to capture the beauty of New Mexico and the essential character of Richard Feynman. Patricia Arquette does her best work in her career in this film. He manages to capture the lessons of Feynman's youth and the influence of his father. This may be the essence of Feynman's genius and his ability to keep things in perspective despite the enormity of the undertaking and the severity of life. The scenes with Feynman's young wife Arline capture his playfulness and ability to teach through analogy and demonstration, the hallmark of his instructive method.
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A must-see for Feymnanauts
editguy1 January 2006
Richard Feynman was famed for his playful, iconoclastic views and discoveries in the realm of theoretical physics; he won a Nobel Prize for his later work. But in the mid-1940's, he was a brilliant 25-year old kid working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, and his beloved wife was dying of Hodgkins disease. The story of Arline and Richard Feynman might seem tepid or boring to non-Feymanauts, but anyone who has read "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" and especially "What do you care what other people think?" will love it. Broderick does a good job capturing Feynman's early persona -- brilliant, able to argue a physics problem with Robert Oppenheimer, but at heart still an awkward, shy young man madly in love with his doomed wife. Sweet, sad, and memorable.
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"Hello! My husband is a physicist!!!" "Don't do that! Don't wave at the cars!"
starsaturn3317 October 2000
Not only is Matthew Broderick one of the most GORGEOUS men on the planet, he delivers a stunning and beautiful performance. One of my favorite lines is "I'm working on a job for the government. I'm getting paid. This way I can take care of her, at last." That line slays me. When know, and he breaks down...well, I just start crying like a baby at that point. Patricia Arquette is always wonderful, of course, and she takes the cake as Arline Greenbaum. The running gag in the joke is when they say, "What do you care what other people think?" to each other. And when she says, "I think I'm a very lucky woman to have Richard Feynman for a friend." And then the look on Richard's face, so full of love for this woman who "knew him by heart". Patricia Arquette's voice when she sings is kinda...eecky, but it has that swinging bluesy quality that was popular when the movie takes place. All in all, Matthew Broderick is HOT and SEE THIS MOVIE. Matty is an INCREDIBLE DIRECTOR!!!!!!!
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A tepid attempt, might have made an okay t.v. movie...
johnny-1432 April 2000
A pale, wan movie that barely holds ones interest past the expository scenes. It clearly is based on rich material, but the performances seem perfunctory and the camera work is uninteresting at best. This mans life deserves a decent movie, but sadly INFINITY is not it...
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golden slumbers
triple-x27 March 1999
A tired, tragically somber dying-wife drama, "Infinity" is a noble effort, but a chore to sit through. It was Matthew Broderick's directorial debut, and he proves utterly incapable of maintaining any sort of pace or shaping a single scene. Based on a true-life story and obviously made with the best of loving intentions, "Infinity" is a hard movie to hate, but impossible to like.
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If you are a Feynman fan, you will enjoy this movie
abhilash-118 February 2008
I give this movie 9/10, the one mark is deducted because this movie is not the best introduction to Feynman's life and does not do enough justice to his great personality. To fully enjoy the movie you must first read Feynman's two books, "What do you care what other people think?' and 'Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!' The first is essential, the second is optional. Both are light reading type of books with loads of jokes but they have their sensitive side as well. On the whole well balance.

Now if you read the book, you will get a good insight into Feynman's personality. Then the movie will be like the frosting on top of your Feynman cake. I wish the director had done a better job, it would have introduced so many more people to the life and works of Richard P. Feynman.
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A sweet movie about an incredible man
Sue-554 July 1999
Richard Feynman was an amazing person, one I wish I had the

chance to know. This movie recounts some of the events of his

life as told in the books, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman"

and "What Do You Care What Other People Think." The books are

filled with anecdotes and memories and they are fascinating. If

you've read the books, see the movie. If you haven't read the

books, do both.
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