Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones
Director: James Marsh
If you've hesitated to see the Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory Of Everything, because you thought you'd be staring at a blackboard full of mathematical equations for two hours, have no fear. This film is a love story, plain and simple, and the only thing about it that may be difficult to understand is how the relationship between Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Jane (Felicity Jones) endured through difficulties of cosmic proportions.
Hawking, as you know, is the brilliant astrophysicist who developed ALS--or Lou Gehrig's Disease--while still a young man. But as his motor skills declined, eventually confining him to a wheelchair, Jane's determination to make their life together as normal as possible in every other way, grew.
He was a student at Cambridge when he met the comely Jane Wilde at a dance. There's a glance...at a dance...you know how that goes. And while the bespectacled Hawking wasn't much to look at, perhaps she already knew she was going to be attracted to him for his mind--and so she never asks why he doesn't love her for hers, as under the circumstances, that would be just too ironic!
Felicity Jones brings to her role such a fierce determination to love this man in spite of everything, (and even the theory of everything) through thick and thin--raising a family of three children together and all the rest--that her performance must be singled out as Oscar nomination worthy. The same goes for Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn) who deserves kudos just for mastering all the facial contortions and such that were required to nail down this role.
We do learn a bit about black holes and the like along the way, but The Theory Of Everything is, above all, a film about the most powerful and enduring force in the universe...and that is Love.
What can I say that Tim hasn't already said? Plenty. To begin with, I was sure I'd be put off by watching the physical deterioration of Hawking – imitated to painfully realistic perfection by Eddie Redmayne. But the actor's smile was so winning, his spirit so ebullient, that I got totally wrapped up in Hawking's life, i.e. the relationships he had -- with his wife, his parents, his classmates, and his mega-intellectual colleagues. Still, as a woman, I found it inconceivable that their marriage was as "normal" as it appeared to be under the circumstances.
Caretakers often lose their identities and, in this case, when Hawking's mother-in-law (played way too briefly by Emily Watson –The Book Thief, War Horse,Hilary and Jackie, etc. ) suggests to her daughter that she should join the local church choir, it is a life and soul-saving move. I wouldn't want to give away too much more but the actor (Harry Lloyd) who plays the choir director was appropriately sensitive and highly believable in the part. Because The Theory Of Everything is a star vehicle for Redmayne, who will definitely win an Oscar this year, Mr. Lloyd's performance will undoubtedly get swept under the red carpet.
Despite the inherent sadness Hawking's situation evokes, I left the theatre feeling uplifted and hopeful. It's a wonderful film that I can find nothing to criticize.