Stephen Hawking has continually defied expectations of what has thought to have been possible and his work in the field of science is unparalleled. To this day, he remains working on an equation that will explain our universe and how we came to be. We know the man and the man’s mind, but most know very little of his heart and the love that he inspired. His once wife, Jane Hawking wrote a novel entitled Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. The novel and this film chronicle the couples origins, their love, their highs and lows, and ultimately how love transcends everything.
As a student at Cambridge College, physicist student Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) was filled with wonder and excitement, as searched for the answers to the universe. At a social gathering one night, Hawking and his friend Brian (Harry Lloyd) mix and mingle with the women there, ultimately leading to Stephen meeting Jane (Felicity Jones). Jane was studying literature and the two hit it off immediately, spending countless hours talking the night away. The two grew extremely fond of one another and they fell in love in a reasonable amount of time. A little ways down the line, Hawking is diagnosed with a motor neuron disease, which he’s told will ultimately kill him in less than two years.
Troubled by this news and what it will mean for his love and his work, Hawking decides to accomplish as much as he can with his professor and good friend, Dennis Sciama (David Thewlis). The two set about researching the universe and Hawking marries Jane, still unsure of how she’ll handle his eventual death. The two have children right after marriage and even hired a caretaker named Jonathan (Charlie Cox), who helps with the children and helps Jane keep things in order. As time passes, Stephen Hawking continues to defy the odds, but his physical state worsens every year. No matter what, Jane stays by his side and their love propels Stephen forward.
The Theory of Everything presents one of the year’s most intimate and affecting displays of love, as well as one of the year’s strongest and most notable performances. The compelling tale of the world-renowned scientist sheds light on most aspects of his life and we get an inside look into how he lived it and with whom he lived it. At times it does get a bit schmaltzy, but there’s no denying the power and emotion that this film radiates, as it takes you along a staggering and wonderful journey. What’s more, this film is probably the best love story of the year, even if it’s not the most conventional.
Eddie Redmayne sang his heart out in Les Miserables and that’s the first time general audiences got a taste of his impressive acting chops and his range of emotion. Here, Redmayne is utterly superb in his performance, taking it from a stumbling young man to a brilliant minded man practically confined to a chair. Redmayne has the task of emoting with his eyes, eyebrow raises, and subtle smirks that fuel his scientific character with a tremendous sense of humor, despite all the hardships he faces. Every stumble and fall is heartbreaking and each tear tears a little piece of your hear out and Redmayne’s relentless effort to live a normal life is absolutely beautiful. It’s certainly a career defining and unforgettable performance that inspires and captivates.
Felicity Jones has to carry a tremendous amount of weight on her shoulders, despite not having the job of performing while capacitated. Jones has a subtle personality that’s budding with affection and determination. Her character sees beyond Hawking’s imperfections and struggles and finds herself drawn to the heart and mind of the genius. Her frustration is evident, as she’s his primary caretaker and she puts much of her life on hold to ensure his safety. On top of everything, she’s tasked with raising multiple children and taking care of Stephen and her heart and body can only take so much. The strain and love that alternates glances on her face is extremely telling of how she lives her life, but there’s much to be said for the chemistry that she and Redmayne have. Absolutely electric.
Charlie Cox and David Thewlis are the two largest supporting characters, both bringing something to the table for Redmayne and Jones. While Thewlis is more of Stephen’s scientific ally and friend, Cox helps the entire family and picks up the care-taking load for Jones. His general friendliness and musical background make him a welcomed face around their house and the fact that he’s not required to be there makes things all the better. Both men help out enormously in helping Stephen and his family grow, they just go about things in different ways. Peake brings a lot of hilarity and understanding to the film, as her character is witting and accustom to working with the handicapped. Peake and Redmayne have a fun chemistry that lightens the overall mood of the film.
Love is the prevailing factor in this film, despite the theory of relativity and a single equation to tell us how we came to be being the meaning behind the film’s title. We spend a fair amount of time with Redmayne deciphering equations and giving scientific lectures, but it’s all put aside for his more familial story. While I don’t mind that, I did find the lectures endlessly fascinating and Redmayne does a terrific job when reciting. The film’s score reminded me a lot of The Fault in Our Stars‘s, only because the two make things more emotional than they need to be. I found myself getting annoyed when things became too fairytale, as those moments detracted from the overall feel of the film. Felicity Jones, while superb in her role, is also restrained by the script, as she never gets her big scene to express how her character really feels. There’s a ton of buildup leading to an event that never occurs.
The Theory of Everything works on emotional, scientific, and personal levels and it’s sure to be a huge contender for the Oscars early next year. Words can’t express just how amazing Redmayne is and it’s my hope that he earns a nomination for this terrific turn. Jones and the rest of the supporting cast pull their own weight and make great impressions, each bringing a different facet of Hawking’s life to the screen. Yes, the film gets a bit fantastical, but it’s not enough to make me roll my eyes and think less of this film. The Theory of Everything is certainly a crowdpleaser and while I thought it could give us more, I was more than fine with what we got.
The Theory of Everything Trailer