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The Theory of EverythingThe Theory of Everything

Director: James Marsh
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis, Harry Lloyd, Maxine Peake.
Certificate: 12A

Running Time: 123 minutes

Rating: ****

With no less than five Academy Award nominations – Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Writing on Material Previously Produced (but no mention of Gillian Flynn’s superb adaptation of Gone Girl in this list, somehow??) and Best Soundtrack – The Theory of Everything, adapted from Jane Hawking’s (Stephen’s first wife) memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen, and being a project that has totally been approved of by the uber-physicist, might tend to add just a little too much weight to a film that is already, let’s face it, pretty darn heavy as it is.

Not a bit of it. This is a film that takes the heavy, sciencey stuff, infuses it with a little “reality” mixed with a little “accessibility” and so concentrates on the story of the woman behind the man.

How is this done? Well, by analysing how Hawking and his wife Jane successfully overcame all odds following a prognosis of two years life expectancy back in 1963, and forged a life together at a time when Motor Neurone Disease was even less understood than it is today.

Through patience, love, care and understanding, not only did the Hawking’s triumph, they also created something bigger than that which Hawking has dedicated his whole life to comprehending: that being not just the meaning of life and how it began, but making three lives of their own in the form of their two sons and a daughter. 

Eddie Redmayne is, for sure, extraordinary as Hawking. His every nuance, inflection and mannerism is imbued with the great man’s character, wit, style and – not a little surprisingly – self-obsession. Still, if you’re going to be the greatest scientist of your age, a little selfishness and dedication is always going to help and Redmayne succeeds brilliantly in exposing the man beneath the periodic table mind.

Superb too is Felicity Jones as Jane, whose selfless dedication to her husband’s career, even at the sake of her own obvious capabilities, is portrayed in a manner that is somehow understated which in itself is admirable, given that it is from her account that the film has been superbly scripted by Anthony McCarten.

There is a genuine affection and respect that shines through so that what remains is not so much a biopic but more of a documented commentary that leaves the audience wondering how they might react in such circumstances, and this feeling has been bathed in a genuine swaddling of tenderness that precludes any preconceptions.

Never more is this more ably demonstrated than via the performance of Harry Lloyd as Hawking’s university roommate Brian, who is always there with a quick quip, a comforting shoulder or a good old fashioned kick up the arse that are all superbly delivered. Lloyd’s performance personifies everything we would like to see in our best friends – and ourselves – and it is he, more than anybody else, that truly shines a light into the darkest corners of understanding and so illuminates proceedings with exquisite finesse.

The Theory of Everything is a safe bet to sweep the board at this year’s Oscars and is, indeed, a worthy contender for those prizes for which it has been nominated. However, the question as to whether it wins because it is a good film, well made OR, rather, whether it wins, should it do so, because of its subject matter, will be open for debate, but that is for another time.

 


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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