The Theory of Everything is the story of the most brilliant and celebrated physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking, and Jane Wilde the arts student he fell in love with whilst studying at Cambridge in the 1960s. Little was expected from Stephen Hawking, a bright but shiftless student of cosmology, given just two years to live following the diagnosis of a fatal illness at 21 years of age. He became galvanized, however, by the love of fellow Cambridge student, Jane Wilde, and he went on to be called the successor to Einstein, as well as a husband and father to their three children. Over the course of their marriage as Stephen's body collapsed and his academic renown soared, fault lines were exposed that tested the lineaments of their relationship and dramatically altered the course of both of their lives. Written by Spencer Higham
November 26, 2014
A Respectfully done Biopic that Moves at the Pace of its Subject.
In The Theory of Everything Eddie Redmayne plays the brilliant scientist Stephen Hawking. The story follows Hawking from his early days at Cambridge, where he meets Jane (Felicity Jones). From there the movie chronicles their life together as well has his crippling battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. The movie gives and intimate inside look at one of the world’s most brilliant minds on space and time.
The key ingredient to The Theory of Everything is Eddie Redmayne. His portrayal of Hawking is unforgettable; a respectfully done work of brilliance. I don’t know what is harder, playing a living legend or playing a dead one. With the deceased you have this air of an omnipotent beings that have a life beyond the grave, any flaw in performance will be deeply criticized by fans as blasphemy. Whereas with the living you risk of insulting someone to their face. Out of the 5 actors nominated for best actor this year 4 of them are playing real people. Redmayne is the only one who had to answer to living. From what I read Hawking is happy with Redmayne’s performance. Felicity Jones is up against an actress playing a real character, Reese Weatherspoon’s Cheryl Strayed from Wild (2014) in the best actress category. Both well received by their real life counterparts, yet neither are the front runner to win the Oscar.
I was not blown away by this movie. Hawking’s is a very inspiriting story of overcoming adversity, I just didn’t walk away inspired. It was more about the love story between Hawking and his wife, who are now in fact separated. When this movie and The Imitation Game (2014) were nominated for Best Picture, I mentally prepped myself to be bored by both of these, due to my own ignorance. The Imitation Game was amazing, painfully moving and super inspirational, this one left a lot to be desired. The director James Marsa is known more for documentaries. This I think is obvious in watching the movie. He does a lot with visual camera tricks and dream like transitions to add more without manipulating the story in anyway. There are a lot of odd, and somewhat confusing elements to Hawking’s life that are treated very delicately. I will not spoil it so as not to ruin anything. I think a director with more fictional film experience would have been better. There is a reason why his name is left off the Best Directing category. If you are a fan of Dr. Hawking’s work then this film is worth a look. It’s always interesting to get the back story on the greats. It does have a few good chuckles and some very touching moments. But if pure entertainment is your quest, pick something else. Unlike Dr. Hawking’s book, even at 123 minutes, this film does not feel like a BRIEF history of time.
The Theory of Everything was built for the Oscars. With a script wrapped around the life of todays Einstein and brilliant acting from an up-and-comer (“that cute guy from Les Misérables“), this is an automatic in for The Academy.
But … that’s about it. It hit all of the “Oscar checkboxes” but misses a key ingredient of excellent filmmaking — passion. Where The Imitation Game seems to push you into the story of a man’s life, The Theory of Everything falls a bit flat. The Stephen Hawking story is fascinating. It’s ready for us to engage … but, to me, it never goes there. I wish the movie went all in on some of the storylines.
That said, the acting is clearly not the problem. Eddie Redmayne is outstanding as Hawking. He perfectly pulls off the journey of a challenging and interesting man as his body gives up while his mind changes the way we look at the world. This is a tough year for him to be up against Michael Keaton, Steve Carrell and Bradley Cooper for the best actor award as this performance is a worthy contender. I promise Eddie Redmayne will be nominated again and again for years to come.
The supporting acting crew was strong. Bottom line, the movie is good … but not great. It reminds me of NFL teams that have the strong elements to be World Champions but just can’t make it through the playoffs. It takes an entire team effort to win it all … great quarterbacks can’t do it alone. Eddie Redmayne is the Aaron Rodgers of this film. He came to play for the entire game and unfortunately his team fell just a bit short. They aren’t that far off and are very very close to a big win. But it’s just not good enough for the World Champions title … even with one of the best quarterbacks of the game.
Maybe next year, Eddie.
For those of you Oscar-fans of course this is a movie to see before February 22nd. Eddie Redmayne will make your pick for best actor even more difficult. If you love excellent performances, The Theory of Everything is also worthy of your visit to a theater. If you like good movies but there is something else on the list you want to see (such as The Imitation Game, Boyhood, Birdman or Whiplash), wait for this film to be on a premium channel or Netflix.