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Movie Review: Theory of Everything


Theory of Everything is a "star-crossed" romance drama and biopic about the relationship between famous physicist, Stephen Hawking, and his wife, Jane. This is a film from James Marsh, the Oscar-winning Man on Wire documentary-maker who also directed IRA thriller, Shadow Dancer. His latest film, Theory of Everything, put him in touch with the Academy Awards again after the film garnered 5 nominations, winning Best Actor for Eddie Redmayne's take on Stephen Hawking.

This is a beautifully crafted drama, taking authentic and emotive snapshots of Hawkings' journey adapted from Jane Hawking's book, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. We're transported to Hawking's college years, where he and his professors are only starting to realise his genius as a physicist. This also happens to be the setting where he meets and falls in love with Jane, only to discover he has motor neuron disease.

Eddie Redmayne's award-winning portrayal of Stephen Hawking is a vocal, physical and emotional transformation. Redmayne is able to carry an emotionally resonant performance that is respectful, accurate, tender and peppered with humour. He's able to contort his body to represent the slow degeneration phase-by-phase, without losing the nuances of a fine-tuned, vulnerable and deeply human performance.

Theory of Everything - Movie Review

"I'll make love to you. Like you want me to. And I'll hold you tight. Baby all through the night."

He's counterbalanced by Felicity Jones, a young British actress with an incredibly bright future, whose strong performance also earned her a Best Actress nomination. She undertakes the role of Jane Hawking, playing a caring and stoic woman, who decides to marry Hawking after learning of his disease, only to truly discover the length and depth of her love for him. Jones is old beyond her years in Theory of Everything and turns in an equally complex and nuanced performance opposite Redmayne.

The young co-leads are supported by a solid ensemble in Harry Lloyd, David Thewlis, Emily Watson and Charlie Cox. Lloyd is well cast as Brian, one of the lads and a loyal college friend. Thewlis is perfectly poised as British physicist and mentor, Dennis Sciama. Emily Watson has a short but sharp role and Charlie Cox brings heart and warmth to the counterpoint character of Jonathan Hellyer Jones.

James Marsh keeps us transfixed on our afflicted genius and the ebb-and-flow of his career from writing A Brief History of Time to his many honours, while turning our attention to his growing family and domestic woes. He uses the tension and ever-widening gap between Stephen and Jane Hawking to keep the drama taut, without ever making us feel sorry for them. The relationship is tested like any on-screen marriage facing an insurmountable obstacle, testament to its great subtlety.

Theory of Everything is a pensive and moving romance drama, but it's also a beautifully shot and stylish film, creating delicate and elemental moments. The production design, wardrobe and props take us on an historical tour of British life keeping in-line with the evolution of computer, medical and text-to-speech technology. The subtle make up deserves special mention, assisting two young actors with the aging process quite gracefully.

Theory of Everything isn't a tearjerker, which is what you'd expect from a film of this nature. Director James Marsh, his cast and film crew have created a fine, balanced and intelligent film with a delicate touch. They hint at story elements instead of spelling them out and exact between-the-lines intimacy in the life and times of Stephen and Jane Hawking. It's a truly special film, carried out with great restraint, authenticity and good humour.

The bottom line: Fine-tuned