DARK MATTER is a harrowing movie about a young genius's attempt to earn a Ph.D., share his ground-breaking ideas about the universe, and improve the lives of his parents and himself. Well scripted and well acted, it rings true.
SPOILER ALERT: at the end, after being repeatedly thwarted by his major advisor/professor and his committee, he "goes postal." All of us who follow the news can recall similar horrific conclusions to real-life stories of academic pressure and frustration.
Looking back on my own career, as a retired college professor who taught for 37 years and who spent 6 years earning my own advanced degrees, I can vouch for the general nastiness of the academic world since the late 1950s. Most academics, despite pretensions to living in an Ivory Tower, swim in a Shark Tank--and sadly many of those who succeed in that environment become the sort of shark-like person who perpetuates it. Power corrupts, whether in government, businesses, or our universities.
Viewers/reviewers who were expecting any sort of upbeat ending to this film were probably not paying attention--or perhaps were imagining they were seeing an academic film that was kindred to A BEAUTIFUL MIND (2002) or GOOD WILL HUNTING (1998).
Liu Xing (Ye Liu), Johanna Silver (Meryl Streep), and Jacob Reiser (Aidan Quinn) are the three main characters (stars) of this film--respectively the genius graduate student, the helpful and sympathetic culture maven, and the powerful, egotistical, self-promoting professor.
Watch this at your own peril. By the way, I do not plan to recommend this to many of my academic friends: most of them are good souls with tender hearts, who would find it stirring up far too many bad memories about their own careers.