The Theory of Everything Review
The Theory of Everything Review
Stephen Hawking’s life and achievements is certainly remarkable and worthy of the big screen. In matters academic, medical and personal Hawking has consistently defied expectations placed upon him at various stages in his life. The Theory of Everything treats the renowned astrophysicist with a degree of reverence but isn’t afraid to delve into the most personal aspects of Hawking’s life. Directed by James Marsh (Man on Wire) The Theory of Everything contains a good script, accomplished direction but most of all phenomenal performances from Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.
The film, for the most part, avoids lengthy explanations of Hawking’s theories and instead focuses on the main events in Hawking’s personal life, from his diagnosis with motor neurone disease to the publication of his book: A Brief History of Time. The film itself is based on Jane Hawking’s memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen and it does show because it has a personal touch to it that elevates the film beyond regular biopic’s. If you’re looking for a detailed look at Hawking’s academic achievements then this isn’t the right place but The Theory of Everything does provide an all-encompassing journey through Hawking’s personal life.
The success the film is getting at the moment can largely be attributed to the two main leads on show. Eddie Redmayne is fantastic as Hawking moving from frustration at his diagnosis to acceptance and quiet brilliance at times. The fact that Redmayne does this often without dialogue is only more impressive. Indeed, some of the best moments in the film are the quieter moments between Jane and Stephen. Felicity Jones succeeds as Hawking’s wife and portrays the heavy toll on her complex character superbly. The two have good chemistry on-screen and give a very good account of themselves and the characters they are portraying. In addition, the film has an accomplished supporting cast from the sincere and supportive Dennis Sciama played by David Thewlis to Harry Lloyd, who stands out in the few scenes he features in as Stephen’s friend Brian and provides some levity and humour.
As previously mentioned, this is a personal story but also a thorough one. The film moves fairly quickly at times but never feels uneven or rushed. For people who know much about Stephen Hawking’s life, this may produce a feeling of disappointment but for general audiences the film hooks you from the beginning. There are some real heartfelt scenes between Redmayne and Jones, and the deep material at play is handled gracefully by all concerned. Credit must be given too to director James Marsh because in lesser hands, this film could have not prodcued the desired effect.
The only criticism that can be levelled at the film is that Hawking’s academic life is somewhat underplayed. The key moments are there and his theories are explained quite well so that general audiences won’t feel swamped. However, the film never quite goes into detail why Hawking’s work is so important, we’re just told that it is and to run with it. On the other hand, this is an understandable omission from the point of view of the writers as Hawking’s work isn’t the simplest to understand. Certainly, his work is explained well enough in terms of what it was but perhaps underplayed in its significance. Visually the film has some nice touches, and certainly transports you back to a certain era, with a particular highlight being the imagery that becomes a metaphor for Stephen’s breakthrough.
Ultimately, the film ends its running by viewing Hawking as a triumphant figure, an individual who has encountered many obstacles but overcome each of them, despite being told otherwise. The overwhelming feeling after the film ends is that Hawking’s life is quite extraordinary and its something the film brings across successfully. The Theory of Everything is an accomplished view of Stephen Hawking’s personal life elevated by two fantastic performances from Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones and is well worth watching.