This year has been dubbed the year of the Brits in the film world. Many nominations and films from the country have excelled. No better example of this is the James Marsh (Man on a Wire, Project Nim) directed film the Theory of Everything. The film is the story of a large part of the life of the well-known scientist and author, Stephen Hawking.
Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne – My Week With Marilyn, Jupiter Ascending) was a brilliant physics student at Cambridge University. While deciding what to write as his thesis he sees a lecturer speak about the origins of the universe and he decides that astrophysics is his thing and is going to write about the beginning of time. Ambitious, yes, but it is apparent that Stephen possessed an incredible intelligence and if anyone could do it he could.
Around the same time at a party his eyes wander around the rouom and land upon a girl. He wanders over to talk to her, finds out her name is Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones – The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Like Crazy) and they end up spending the entire evening talking. Though it seems like they are not going to get together the 21-year-old Stephen persists.
As the two begin a relationship Stephen has an accident while on campus at Cambridge. He seems to trip over his own feet and falls. At the hospital he undergoes a battery of test and finally the doctor gives him the diagnosis of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Initially he is crushed and tries to drive Jane away. She doesn’t give up, tells him she loves him and that they will deal with whatever comes.
The two get married, have children and even as Stephen’s body starts to give out he continues his work as his brain is not affected. Jane is there with him every step of the way. They have a true partnership. Stephen is now on the path of writing his best-selling novel, The Theory of Everything. Oddly it is about time and with him being told that he has no more than two years left to live time is something he is very short on.
I found it quite interesting that a man who has been mostly known for documentaries was chosen to direct this film. Though, if you really think about it then it is not such a strange choice as it is a biopic. You can tell that much thought and carefully planning went into making an authentic feeling picture. The film uses Jane Hawking’s novel, Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen as its primary source material. And they succeeded as I have read that Hawking and his family totally love the film. Marsh mostly focuses on the relationship between Stephen and Jane. There is a nice balance between Stephen Hawking the family man and Stephen Hawking the astrophysicist.
Really what is amazing about the film is the performance by Eddie Redmayne. The physical transformation he undergoes (without the use of prosthetics, I might add) is incredible. Completely believable and yet mindblowing. Transformative. He must have had muscle and face cramps for months afterwards. He has to convincingly show the different physical stages this man has to go through over the years with him finally ending up in a wheelchair. Felicity Jones has a less showy part, though the film actually ends up being more about her, but is really good as well. Stalwart was the woman and is the actress as she stands beside and behind her man. Together onscreen they have great chemistry.
The film as a whole has its flaws though the two leads do elevate it. I did find myself aching to know more about the man himself. It really is only a brief history (forgive the pun) of his life. He is an amazing man and I feel like the film did not show me who he really was…except for brilliant.