2010's, Based on a true story, Biopic, Charlie Cox, David Thewlis, Drama, Eddie Redmayne, Emily Watson, Felicity Jones, James Marsh, Maxine Peake, Simon McBurney, Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything
The Theory of Everything
- Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking
- Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking
- Charlie Cox as Jonathan
- David Thewlis as Dennis Sciama
- Simon McBurney as Frank Hawking
- Emily Watson as Beryl Wilde
- Maxine Peake as Elaine
A soaring and immensely moving movie based on the journey of Stephen Hawking and his first wife Jane, as they defied the odds stacked against them, The Theory of Everything has both emotion and insight into a brilliant mind that refused to be halted, despite the dark prognosis given to him and how his wife persevered and supported him.
We begin with Stephen Hawking in 1963 where he is a theoretical physics student at Cambridge. He is especially gifted at maths and curious about cosmology, yet hasn’t decided on what to do for a thesis. Around this time, he meets pretty literature student Jane. Both are of different ideals; Stephen believing in stars and science, while Jane is more artistic and a believer in God. Both start to fall in love and Stephen also begins to become interested in studying time for his thesis. Yet his burgeoning relationship with Jane and are dealt a devastating blow. His muscles start to play up and after a nasty fall and examination, he is diagnosed with ALS; which directly affects muscles, the body and eventually his ability to walk, speak and breath. He is also told that he only has around two years to live. Reeling from this, Stephen throws himself into his theories and attempts to push Jane away, but she refuses as she is deeply in love with him. Together, they marry, have children and instead of giving up, continue to face the hardships of his condition head on. Yet as time goes on, Stephen’s condition worsens and it takes a toll on Jane. She dearly loves him, but the strain of his debilitating body and dependence on her is becoming more difficult to bear. Stephen excels with his theories and experiences success as a respected scientist speaking of the universe and how it came to be, but can obviously see that his condition is not something he can just ignore. As everything grows more testing, Stephen and Jane are forced to confront what to do next, despite their deep love for the other.
James Marsh sensitively directs this biopic with a clear understanding of visual and emotional depth. In terms of pacing, he pitches things just at the right speed, only tripping up sometimes and rarely at that. Other than that, Marsh has a good eye for pattern and symmetry, particularly in reference to Stephen’s study represented by swirling and circular spirals. Kudos must be awarded to the cinematography in this biopic that practically shimmers and lends a hopefulness to what is already a highly moving and extraordinary story. The occasional use of an old style camera, complete with grain and colour abrasion, is also notable in capturing the changing events and as a passage of time for the couple. It’s the emotional core of Stephen and Jane that really stands out the most, as they take on the deafening odds and continue to challenge what they’ve been told. We are invested in their love for each other; we get to glimpse those moments when both realise that it’s not as easy or as straightforward as love just being enough, yet there is still a very touching sense of bond that transcends all the darkness they endure. Both may overcome severe obstacles thrown at them, but there’s a refreshing honesty to The Theory of Everything that underlines how even the strongest of loves can be shaken and pushed to breaking point. Overall, it’s the inspiring nature of the story that is what sells The Theory of Everything, depicting Stephen’s refusal to stop working and Jane’s backbone of steel in supporting him. The resilience that both of them show and went through for real is simply outstanding, considering the initially dire outcome that was predicted for Stephen upon diagnosis. Pathos and uplifting moments are frequently employed and add significantly to the difficult journey of Stephen and Jane; one that is testing as it is rewarding. Some may quibble with the often sprightly pace of the film which only occasionally gets in the way. Though saying that, as the story covers such a large area of time, it seems only right to cut any flab and focus on the emotional and personal crux of it all. In that sense, it cuts straight to the heart of the deeply engaging and honest story observed. And while it does that, it still takes time, especially in the beginning to foreshadow the decline of Stephen’s health through various hints. I simply have to commend the score of this movie that moves through lovely rhythms and melancholy moods with a clear command and soulfulness. It brings out such a richly evocative to an already
What really invests your heart and soul in is the two sublime performances from Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Eddie Redmayne, in an Oscar-winning performance, is a physical and emotional marvel as the renowned Stephen Hawking. He completely transforms into the part; displaying the deep intellect of his mind, ability to crack a joke even in dire situations and in latter stages when his condition has rendered him unable to speak and largely paralysed, his face and eyes say so much to us all. We truly feel the palpable toll his diagnosis takes on him, but how he is not going to simply give up on his dreams. The difficulties of Stephen’s deterioration physically only seem to make his mind more determined to thrive, a quirk that Redmayne fully explores and exudes with clear nuance and clarity. He is so invested in role that you forget that it’s an actor playing a part, such is the conviction and dedication to the task of playing Hawking that Redmayne does with every fibre of his being. Redmayne fully warranted the Oscar he received for his powerful performance here. No less excellent or beautifully nuanced is Felicity Jones as his wife Jane. Jones has that ability to really suggest her innermost feelings without saying a word, as it is clearly written over her face. This skill is wonderfully employed in a sensitive performance of immense strength and vulnerability from the talented Jones. Jane is a lovely person but no pushover and a compelling force of inspiration, who can be a stalwart rock but is not immune to feelings of sadness and deep uncertainty. Both stars have a sensitive and deeply felt bond with each other that resonates deeply and will stir your feelings. Supporting players are finely chosen, with Charlie Cox, David Thewlis, Simon McBurney, Emily Watson and Maxine Peake fleshing it out. But the film ultimately belongs to Redmayne and Jones.
Anchored by two beautiful performances and strikingly directed and scored, The Theory of Everything celebrates strength and love in the face of adversity. Plus, it allows an understanding into the mind of Hawking and how he triumphed, with help from Jane, to become the respected man he is still now.