Actor turned director Matthew Broderick takes a tragic episode from the memoirs of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman -- the early death of his first wife, Arline -- and transforms it into dull and flavorless drama. Feynman (Broderick) and Arline Greenbaum
(Patricia Arquette) meet as teenagers and remain an item throughout his college and grad school years. Then, in 1941, two momentous events occur: Feynman is offered a job with the Manhattan Project, and Arline is diagnosed with what was then an incurable disease -- highly infectious tuberculosis.
That Feynman marries her anyway, against the well-intentioned advice of his family, is the stuff of terrific romantic drama. But the script, penned by Broderick's mother (her first), is a study in missed opportunities. She attempts to parallel the two great passions of Feynman's youth -- physics
and Arline -- but gives us far too much of the former and surprisingly little of the latter. Since Arline comes across as a confounding cipher rather than the muse Feynman recalls, what should by all rights be an unusual and tragic love story becomes a tedious crash-course in quantum physics.
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