The Theory of Everything is an extremely moving love story concerning the brilliant British scientist Stephen Hawking and his first marriage. Whilst you may need a PhD in Physics to understand the intricacies of Hawking’s theories (which by coincidence I have and – no – it’s not enough) the lack of a GCSE in Physics is not a barrier to enjoying this movie.
Starting in 1963 when Hawking is starting his PhD studies in Cambridge University, the story picks up with the geeky and socially inadequate Hawking as he sparks a (rather unlikely) relationship with the extremely attractive Jane (Felicity Jones from “The Invisible Woman”). If this segment of the film had a hashtag it would be #punchingabovehisweight. Greatly encouraged by his mentor Dennis Sciama – generally seen as the father of modern cosmology and played by the ever reliable David Thewlis – Hawking develops his extraordinary theories (and counter-theories) in the hot-house of a 1960’s Cambridge. Fate cruelly steps in though with Hawking developing the Motor Neuron Disease with which he is now famously associated. Given he was given just 2 years to live, he clearly has a private black hole somewhere to have warped time for the last 60+ years!
As biopics go, this is an exceptionally good one. Eddie Redmayne’s Hawking is just mesmeric. Hawking himself, on being given the opportunity to see the film before its world premiere, commented that at times he thought he was watching himself. The depths of physical and emotional acting Redmayne displays with this performance has to be seen to be believed, and I will personally eat my hat if Redmayne does not get at least an Oscar nomination for this part. (And who wouldn’t want to see Hawking himself roll out to announce an award at the Kodak theatre!).
Felicity Jones is also outstanding in the role of Jane. The film is based on Jane Hawking’s own book although screenwriter Anthony McCarten has taken a few liberties with the life story for dramatic effect (there is a very interesting dissection of the film’s factual accuracy here). As referenced above, Hawking has seen the film and he was reportedly so moved that he shed a tear and then offered the use of the actual audio from his speech synthesizer for the film. So in this sense, Hawking narrates his own dialogue in the latter half of the film, which is quite a coup.
Supporting actor parts are also great from an ensemble cast with Simon McBurney (“Magic in the Moonlight”, TV’s “Rev”) as Hawking’s father, Harry Lloyd as Hawking’s university friend Brian and Charlie Cox as the ‘family friend’ Jonathan being particularly effective.
The director is James Marsh, best known for his gripping documentaries “Man on Wire” and “Project Nim”, and the cinematographer Benoît Delhomme (“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”) realising a wonderfully nostalgic vision of 60’s Cambridge. Also notable is the beautifully fitting music by Islandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson – I fully expected this in the credits to be the omni-present Alexandre Desplat, but for once I was wrong!
So a ‘must see’ in the run up to the Oscar season, but one to take lots of tissues to if you are affected by emotional films: this one seemed to be particularly impactful on the females in the audience – perhaps because it tells the love story from the perspective of Jane – with my wife virtually in tears throughout! (Or maybe that’s just because the realisation has finally struck that she’s been married to a PhD physicist for 30 years??!).
Fad Rating: FFFFf.