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Awkward 'Einstein's God Model' remains an engaging mind-bender

Awkward 'Einstein's God Model' remains an engaging mind-bender
Kenneth Hughes in the movie "Einstein's God Model." (Indie Rights)

A minuscule budget can't quell the ambition of writer-director Philip T. Johnson's debut feature, "Einstein's God Model," a wiggy science-fiction film with philosophical inclinations. Though the acting is inconsistent and the dialogue often laughable (and not in the good way), the film has an appealing can-do quality and a strong dose of craziness that keeps it from ever becoming boring.

Aaron Graham stars as Brayden, an anesthesiologist still reeling from the death of his fiancée when he meets a crusading physicist (played by Kenneth Hughes) and a blind, alcoholic psychic (Brad Norman), both of whom worked on a project to help the living communicate with the dead.

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Much of "Einstein's God Model" consists of intense eccentrics spouting off at length about string theory and parallel dimensions, often while cracking lame jokes or saying things like, "We're literally pushing the envelope!" Johnson saves most of his special-effects money for an exciting pre-credits sequence and a freaky climax.

Although it's nowhere near as strong as recent indie sci-fi favorites "Primer" and "Coherence," this film does offer a stirring score (by Dengue Fever's Senon Williams) and an indefatigable spirit. Johnson tackles grief, hope, spirituality and the unifying theory of everything. It's hard to be too down on a film that has so much to say — no matter how clumsily.

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'Einstein's God Model'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood

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