Reviews

The Theory of Everything

Working Title Films

Mark Haddon

“Here is an unexpectedly charming, moving and powerfully acted film about the enigma that is Stephen W Hawking…”

 

Peter Bradshaw, theguardian.com

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Stephen Hawking is a name everyone knows, be it for his scientific accomplishments, the fact he has defied medical science by surviving well in to his seventies with Motor Neurone Disease, or just because he’s the guy in the wheel chair with ‘that’ electronic voice. But, as one would expect, behind those brief definitions of him there lies a rich and challenging life story.

What this film does is achieve a wonderful blend of academic and personal story telling. Because, of course, real life always is a mix of personal and professional so to tell his story of one without the other would not give a true picture. The balance does lean more heavily towards the personal aspects though (as I think is reasonable given Hawking’s field of study!) and this balance is brought to the film by his wife Jane taking an equally key lead role. What is played out during the 123 minute film feels to be a relative honest take on the long and complex relationship between Stephen and Jane as they tackle his illness, his evolving scientific career and a young family.

The cast and script for this film are both incredibly strong. However, the shining stars - the people who really make the film - are Eddie Redmayne as Stephen and Felicity Jones as Jane. They both give quite different but equally stunning performances. Jones, initially it seems, has the easier job of the two because she was portraying a woman who has no physical impediments and who isn’t publicly recognisable the way her husband is. However, as the plot evolves, the skill in her performance becomes clear; It would be very easy to unfairly see Jane as a ‘villain’ in the Hawkings’ marriage. But Jones makes Jane so accessible as a person that it is impossible to not empathise with the situations she finds herself in and the obstacles she has to face.

There is no disputing though the challenges that Redmayne had to overcome in bringing Stephen Hawking to the big screen. From quite early-on in the film, the physical disabilities Hawking started to suffer in his life are ever present. As these progressively worsen, Redmayne’s performance moves from being a mix of vocal and physical to entirely physical. But every single mannerism and facial expression is exactly as we have seen with the real-life Hawking - for those of us who don’t personally know him at least. It is impossible to get to the end of the film without forgetting that it’s an actor not the real Stephen Hawking on the screen in front of you!

It has to be noted that Stephen Hawking himself was so comfortable with how his life had been presented in this film (he is quoted as saying on his Facebook page about Redmayne, "At times, I thought he was me.”) that he actually allowed his real electronic voice to be used; That in itself is telling about the quality of this production. ‘The Theory of Everything’ a delightful film which tells a beautiful but honest story of two people who go through so much together.

 

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Reviewed on 03/01/2015 by Angela

 

Reviewed item details

Guardian review

IMDB Listing
Reel Cinemas - Trailer
Filmoria Image
Biopic fatigue?
Hollywood Reporter
Hitflix.com

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