Friday, November 14, 2014


Directed by James Marsh
Written by Anthony McCarten 
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, and David Thewlis
Synopsis: A chronicle of the marriage between Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde. 

(Editor's note: This review was originally posted on Central Track)

It was only a matter of time before there was the standard bio-pic of the grandfather of modern popular physicist, Stephen Hawking.

Hawking, in case you're not up on your modern-day physics, is the brilliant mind behind advancing the ideas of general relativity and relating physics and astronomy. And that's about the extent of the ideas I could wrap my head around in the film. Thankfully, the film doesn't go too heavy on the physics side, and any explanation is kept simple. During his years as a PhD candidate, Hawking was diagnosed with ALS. He was given only two years to live, but he has clearly beat the odds even though his is now is confined to his wheelchair and can no longer talk.

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING focuses on the years between the marriage of Hawking (Redmayne) and Jane Wilde (Jones). Shortly after his diagnosis, they wed and tried to have as normal life as possible. Their struggles begin to exponentially increase as Hawking's disease worsens, and Jane is left trying to care for their three children and the household.

Eddie Redmayne is absolutely stellar as Hawking. He begins as a charming yet nerdy student whom Jane falls in love with, and we slowly watch him lose his muscle control, his ability to speak, and confinement to a wheelchair by the end. Redmayne has the almost impossible task to conveying serious emotion through just his eyes. You eventually forget this is an actor as he becomes completely immersed in the performance.

However, the real stand out is Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde. She really does steal the film. It would have been fascinating to see this world from her perspective. As a woman who puts her dreams of a doctorate in literature and any sort of outside life on hold, Jones treads a balance of a devoted wife but a strong-willed woman who knows her limit. As a character, it could have been an easy choice to make Jane whiny or shrewish, but the film is more gracious than that. The story recognizes that this is just as much her story, if not more, than Hawking's.

Redmayne and Jones completely save this film from being utterly ordinary. Hawking's life is fascinating. There's a plethora of stories and emotions to tell from being one of the most brilliant minds in the world and his struggle with ALS or even his life after his marriage to Jane. But without the award-level performances (which will happen), the movie itself would have been totally forgettable. There wasn't enough tension in the plot, and there could have been more build up in Hawking's earlier years with how brilliant he was even in college.

The film will be an early contender for the typical Oscar-bait biopics. But the nuanced performances by the two leads keep this from being a forgettable film. Jones and Redmayne have a bright future in film ahead of them. Take your parents to see it over the holidays. They'll love it.

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