This story was inspired by a true event that happened in 1991 when only the elite students in China were allowed to go abroad to pursue their studies. The director Chen Shi-Zheng sees Dark Matter as an opportunity to explore the mysterious and powerful forces unleashed when a young Chinese immigrant strives to make his mark in a culture that is at once seductive and impenetrable.
Liu Xing (Chinese for “shooting star”) is a Chinese cosmology student pursuing a PhD in the United States, and who quickly becomes his professor’s protégé. He is drawn to the study of dark matter, an unseen substance that shapes the universe, but it soon becomes clear that his developing theories threaten his professor’s model. Excited by the possibility of a breakthrough, Liu Xing becomes deaf to warnings and goes behind his professor’s back to publish his own discoveries; his dissertation is rejected in retaliation. Too proud to accept help from a patron-friend, and unwilling to return home to his parents, Liu Xing is inexorably pushed to the margins of American life, until he loses his way.
Renowned Chinese actor Liu Ye (Lan Yu, Curse of the Golden Flower) delivers another powerful performance as the ill-fated Liu Xing. Playing opposite him is the antagonistic professor Jacob Reiser (Aidan Quinn), and the kind-hearted wealthy patron of the university, Joanna Silver, played by the always amazing Meryl Streep. The chemistry between these three lead actors transcends earthly human desires to the darkest cosmological depths of eternal regrets.
– Alice Shih