Film review – The Theory of Everything
The build up to the highly anticipated The Theory of Everything left viewers wondering how they could cram the life of such a celebrated scientist and the physical challenges he faced in to one film. We all know about Hawking’s the scientist, but the story of Hawking’s as an awkward student and falling in love is truly touching and heartfelt. Watching his health and independence decline is moving and hard to see at times, yet allows the audience to appreciate and marvel at the achievements he managed to accomplish despite his physical limitations.
The role could easily be overacted and hammed up due to the extreme symptoms of motor neuron disease, and yet Redmayne plays it with sensitivity and subtlety to make it an utterly convincing performance. His portrayal conveys the devastating decline of the condition and the frustration between his physical limitations and his brilliant mind.
The cinematography and use of lighting is also impressive, making James Marsh's impressive biopic even more beautiful and captivating. They challenge the assumption that science is dull and manage to make physics and cosmology seem romantic and evocative as Hawking’s begins to fall in love and uses his intelligence to impress Jane.
The title is misleading as there is very little science which seems to be a missed opportunity as it would have been interesting to learn more about the mental processes behind his theories. They also skip over some of Hawking’s colleagues, impressive contemporaries at University and the scientists from which he based and developed his theories from – this seems a strange editorial decision. It’s petty to pick up on such a detail but, although his life and loves are fascinating, he is famed for being a brilliant cosmologist and scientist so a bit more thought towards that would have gone a long way.
However, it is Hollywood so most of the film follows his love story with Jane Hawking, played by Felicity Jones, who he meets at Cambridge University. Her fierce loyalty to her husband through his illness is compelling and Hawking’s attempts to push her away for her own good, which is admirable. This love goes deeper than your average rom-com because their love is tested and repeatedly pushed to the limit. They met as carefree students and she supports him through his diagnosis and rapid decline in health until he is barely recognisable. This level of determination and dedication is admirable and serves as the driving force throughout the film.
Towards the end the breakup of their marriage is hard to face, as they turned to other love interests for comfort in their difficult situation. Despite this harsh reality, the film portrays this sensitively as they remain close friends to this day, and that helps keep the ending not too bitter sweet but his sense of pride in his family and what he has achieved shows the family and human side of such a brilliant and intelligent man.
This film faced the challenge of being worthy of portraying the life of one of the world’s greatest minds, and yet The Theory of Everything artfully manages to do so and live up to the hype.
Life affirming, powerful and highly recommended – 4 out of 5 stars.
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Posted on 18th February 2015 by Elinore Court.
Elinore Court lives at Liberty House in London, she is studying a masters degree in Magazine Journalism at City University.