Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Theory Of Everything

Year: 2015
Director: James Marsh
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, David Thewlis

Plot: The story of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and his relationship with his wife Jane Hawking.

Review: Everyone's heard of the iconic Stephen Hawking, but not many really know him. This film, based on Jane Hawking's book Travelling To Infinity: My Life With Stephen, attempts to let us get to know him a bit better.

At the helm is James Marsh, who is mostly known for directing documentaries, but here he does a fine job showing us Stephen's life story, from being a student at Cambridge to becoming one of the most brilliant men in the world, and in between, how he met Jane Wilde, and how his eventual suffering of motor neuron disease affects the both of them. It's more of a biography than a character study, so it's more like The Lady and less like The Iron Lady, if you can recall which film is which.

The best parts of the story are when Stephen continues to be the great mind that he is, despite continuously deteriorating from his condition. At first, like any person in his condition, he withdraws from everyone, including Jane, but it is her love for him that pulls him through, and that is the heart of the story. To this end, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones deserve all the credit in the world for bringing the couple to life on screen.

Redmayne reportedly went through such trouble to portray Stephen physically that he altered the alignment of his spine in the process. It was truly worth it as I can't think of anyone who can play the man so well, and it's to his advantage that he made himself resemble Stephen so much. But it's not just the physical aspect where he succeeds, he even manages to make the man fascinating and charming, despite having trouble walking, speaking or making normal human contact. Redmayne is excellent, no doubt about it.

In contrast to that, Jones plays the emotional center of the relationship. Jane made plenty of sacrifices to accommodate the required changes and support her husband, and Jones solidly brings out her strength and vulnerability in carrying on through the surmounting odds, never faltering until towards the end.

If there is any downside to this film, it's the focus heavily leaning on Jane's point of view, especially in the second half. Since she wrote the book this film is based on, it's no surprise. But still, it would be nice to view the relationship from Stephen's side just a little more. Perhaps in this matter, the man was rather private, but nonetheless, a more even look at their relationship would make this story just a bit more satisfying.

All in all, The Theory Of Everything is a great film on the life of Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane. Whether you know him or not, or like him or not, it's something you ought to check out. (8/10)

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