Opened: October 11, 1996 | Rated: PG
Watching "Infinity," it's easy to become distracted trying to figure out why this story about a physicist taking care of his bed-ridden wife isn't mind-numbingly dull.
Directed by and starring Matthew Broderick (and written by his mother), the film consists of entirely ordinary episodes from these people's lives and what should be stagnant dialogue. But director Broderick infuses an day-to-day intimacy into these scenes that is enrapturing.
Broderick plays Richard Feynman, one of the minds holed up at Los Alamos building the atom bomb during WWII. The film begins with Richard's childhood questions to his father about the physical world and moves quickly into his teens, when he meets Arline (Patricia Arquette), the love of his life.
Broderick and Arquette, both blessed with youthful faces, play the characters from age 16 on. Both actors deftly handle the carefree teenage spirit that lingers as the they grow older and learn of what is to be their cross to bear -- Arline's tuberculosis. While she lives in an Albuquerque hospital, Richard commutes 100 miles every week to see her from Los Alamos.
The weight of the emotions, the couple's complete comfort in each others hearts, the genuine, tender friendship of their love, are strong enough to evoke empathy to the point of physical sensation when they cuddle up.
As a director, Broderick provides little in the way of distractions, keeping the focus on thought and emotion. He adds only brief glimpses into Feynman's work, like fleeting thoughts that flutter in and out of his mind.
"Infinity" is an odd little picture, but a strong directorial debut for Broderick.