"It has been a great joy to watch this man defy every expectation, both scientific, and personal."
To quote Sheldon Cooper, ‘if Hawking’s theories are proven correct, then they will merely explain why the universe exists, how it came to be and how it will ultimately end’. So the appropriately titled Theory of Everything is another Oscar hopeful and by this stage it just appears that it’s trying to make the decision of who to give the award to this year even harder.
Stephen Hawking is a gifted theoretical physicist. But his research lacks focus or a theme as he is studying for his PhD. At the same time he meets and falls in love with Jane Wilde, but their relationship must survive Stephen’s devastating diagnosis of motor neurone disease as he makes the breakthrough in physics that will go on to consume him.
This is certainly a challenging but rewarding film, in the same way that the best dramas are. Eddie Redmayne catches every aspect of this long and progressive disease with such integrity doe each stage. The physical aspect of this performance is staggering, but to maintain such standards without the use of his voice for a good deal of the film, Redmayne takes the transformation elements of acting to new heights. There is a real feeling of Hawking slowly losing his former identity as the process continues, but there’s definitely the human touch necessary to create a sympathetic character.
Though the Theory of Everything deals with the most mind bending theories that Hawking’s extraordinary mind created over the years, it never appears to be disconnected with its audience. I won’t claim to understand every aspect of hawking’s theories, though I admire and am fascinated by all of them, so I was glad that despite not knowing half of what he said without a dictionary, you could sense the passion and the emotion behind his argument for these theories, and that it why I connected with him. I found Redmayne’s portrayal to be one that maintained its intelligence but also the emotional connection, without sacrificing either of the vice to also achieve the versa.
But of course, Redmayne is not the only outstanding performance. We see Hawking’s relationship and we see his Felicity Jones expertly acting out the woman behind all of the support, all of the pain and in many ways the driving force behind this film. There’s a subtle element of struggling to cope with a life-time existence with her husband. The inner turmoil is there, as is the sympathy and love. One familiar with the real Hawking story may be cautious of her demonization but in all honesty, there is nothing of the sort here. Both actors respond as humans would caught in such a tragic yet optimistic situation.
The story is inspirational in highlighting the achievements and struggles of this extraordinary life. Similarly to the Imitation Game the Theory of Everything works as more than a biopic, it’s also a romance that is done with all of the right ingredients to make it feel like a romance. Give this film a protagonist with a different name and you have, a plagiarism of Hawking’s biography, but also a good film anyway. But it manages to use our knowledge of an iconic figure in today’s world to its advantage. There is of course the wonderful moment when that sentence is stated in that familiar voice for the first time, ‘My name is Stephen Hawking’. Only to be given an entertaining spin a few seconds later as Jane remarks, ‘It’s American?’
Immensely entertaining and inspirational throughout, the Theory of Everything features two standout performances and a stunning physical and mental transformation. There are a few elements of it being your usual tragic romance, so as a film it may be flawed. But as a celebration of possibly the greatest mind of our time, it succeeds beautifully.