Big Screen :: The Theory of Everything

January 30th 2015

theory of everything

I don’t know about you but I thought The Theory Of Everything looked awful, and I only watched it because I had nothing better to review this week.

Plus, my Mum wanted to see it, and I am two-minute noodle poor right now so the fact that she always buys me an expensive dinner when I take her to the movies was a big bonus. This film looked like the worst kind of Oscar bait, and I wondered why on earth you would want to make or watch a movie about Stephen Hawking that focuses on his love life – it would be like making a movie about Einstein that focuses on his cats or his love of fishing or something. While I stand by all of this, I am surprised to report that, having watched it, the movie is actually pretty decent.

Obviously, the whole thing hinges on Eddie Redmayne being able to convincingly portray Hawking’s physical deterioration. This could have gone so very badly wrong but Redmayne does an amazing job. On the scale of “acting degree of difficulty” selling huge emotional moments while playing a non-verbal guy contorted and frozen in a wheelchair is right up there with the werewolf from Twilight falling in love with a baby or Academy Award-winner Michael Caine convincing audiences he was riding on a giant bumble bee with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Journey 2 The Mysterious Island. Redmayne does a far better job than either of those guys though, and I wouldn’t be upset if he won an Oscar for this. He’s pretty amazing.

This is only partly a sappy love story. Mostly, it’s a clear-eyed look at what happens when a woman marries and has kids with a man given just two years to live, and what it feels like when he miraculously doesn’t die and instead needs constant care. It explores how an intelligent woman who marries a brilliant man  that becomes profoundly disabled has her life overtaken in just about every way imaginable. Stephen is not only a genius, but he is also a flawed kind of selfish guy sometimes. Likewise, Jane is not only a saint, but also a woman who is sad and frustrated at what her life has become. None of this was what I expected to see, and Felicity Jones, taking a back seat to an obviously more showy performance, is fantastic throughout all of it. You see bits and pieces of Hawking’s work, his scientific breakthroughs and more interestingly his personality and wit. I’m not saying that The Theory of Everything is essential viewing or anything, but it’s worth a look if you can’t figure out what to watch.

As an interesting post-script, if you know much about Hawking, then you probably know that his love live got a bit complex in later life. That’s not in the movie, and it’s the third big, glossy Oscar-nominated biopic I have seen after The Imitation Game and American Sniper that ignores perhaps the most interesting part of their subject’s lives. Its an annoying trend.

Also, because I know you wanted to see it… here is a clip of Michael Caine riding the giant bee.


And the movie trailer:


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