The Theory Of Everything, 2014.
Directed by James Marsh.
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Harry Lloyd, David Thewlis, Emily Watson and Christian McKay.
A look at the relationship between Stephen Hawking (Redmayne) and Jane Hawking (Jones), from their meeting at Cambridge until Hawking’s worldwide success.
There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.
Biopics often work most when the film in question isn’t out to praise something to the high heavens or slander into the ground, but rather find a comfortable middle ground peppered with a touch of controversy. The Theory Of Everything could have been formulaic Oscar bait of the highest caliber, depicting the relationship of Stephen and Jane Hawking as a perfect love affair full of happiness with no strains along the way, ignoring some of the more surprising and heartbreaking elements towards the end of their journey. Director James Marsh didn’t opt for the route of fairytale though, and left a pleasant amount of sadness on the table. For better or worse, The Theory Of Everything is one of the most accurate portrayals of the extraordinarily incredible life of Stephen Hawking and his love life.
None of it is powerful as it is however without Eddie Redmayne’s viscerally realistic portrayal of the world-renowned physicist. The acting on display here isn’t akin to something as simple as a great performance, but rather a scenario of the actor becoming the character in every conceivable way possible. Eddie Redmayne is completely unrecognizable as Stephen Hawking, but most importantly, if you look at a picture of them side-by-side you will find an uncanny resemblance. Redmayne’s phenomenal performance goes beyond aesthetics and excellent make-up effects though, as he delivers a physically taxing performance that captures the essence of a motor neuron disease. Whether it is perfecting the delivery of a slurred and often unintelligible voice, or struggling to simply lift a spoonful of peas to his mouth, Eddie Redmayne is awe-inspiring, bringing forth one of the most surreal performances of the decade.
Felicity Jones may not match Eddie Redmayne every step of the way, but she too delivers a remarkable performance as the loving wife that simply wouldn’t leave his side, no matter how worse Stephen’s disease got or if she found herself having to resist the temptation of leaving him for another person. If The Theory Of Everything is a film centered on the theme of overcoming physical limitations, then Felicity Jones successfully portrays a spark that keeps Redmayne’s Stephen Hawking mentally and physically fighting with a purpose to live for. And at the core of it, that is what The Theory Of Everything is about. This simply isn’t the film for people interested in the scientific accomplishments of Stephen Hawking, but rather his relentlessness to not let his disease define him. Love, marriage, children, and more are all accomplished, and truthfully, that is more important and inspirational than his other feats.
With that said, the filmmakers are unafraid to shed light on some of the more depressing elements of the relationship, so in that regard The Theory Of Everything is as heartbreaking as it is uplifting. Despite that, the film manages to end on one of the most moving and touching moments I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing in a movie; truly a scene that will get the waterworks flowing.
It does feel that the filmmakers could have went a bit farther with some of the more downer aspects of Stephen Hawking’s love life, as one thing the movie does so well is sparking a genuine interest to learn more about his life. In doing so though it is clear that there are quite a bit of interesting parts cut out. Perhaps the intent was to keep the film focused on the more positive beats and overall inspirational theme.
Another minor flaw that is a bit rough and tough to overlook is that for a film that spans around 25 years, the appearances of the characters never really age, meaning that it is tough to sometimes gauge what year it is or how far along we are in the relationship. It’s also weird that the actual marriage and birth of Stephen and Jane’s first child is glossed over in a montage; that’s something that feels highly important and interesting when the spotlight is on the relationship. The film is only 122 minutes, so adding more meat to both the good and the bad doesn’t seem like something that would negatively impact the film too bad.
What is here however is a triumphant look at the personal life of an extraordinary and inspirational human being. You know The Theory Of Everything is a biopic handled with care when you consider that the real Stephen Hawking lended the usage of his Equalizer computerized voice. Photo-realistically and powerfully acted physically, The Theory Of Everything is a tour de force that reminds us that no matter how awful life may be, positives exist and any boundary can be shattered.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. He currently writes for Flickering Myth, We Got This Covered, and Wrestle Enigma. Follow me on Twitter.