The Theory of Everything (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

The Theory of Everything (2014) Directed by James Marsh. With Eddie RedmayneFelicity Jones and Charlie Cox. 

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With a host of Oscar nods under its belt, and a win for actor Eddie Redmayne playing theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking – The Theory of Everything tells the story of the relationship between Hawking and his wife, Jane (Felicity Jones). The film begins when the couple first meet and covers Hawking’s diagnosis and struggle with motor neuron disease, as well as his success in physics and subsequent celebrity.

It’s an obvious, yet inescapable comparison, but the first sight of Redmayne as a young Hawking immediately conjures Mike Myers as Austin Powers. With a mop of reddish-brown hair, thick black-rimmed glasses and a wide toothy smile, all that’s missing is the customary – “Yeah baby!“. Once we get our bearings, however, we quickly realise that this is a beautifully observed performance that is at pains to ensure absolute authenticity. No-one could argue that Redmayne didn’t deserve his Oscar statuette. His performance is utterly convincing, portraying a deeply intelligent, yet playful man. Indeed, it’s refreshing that despite the sadness and struggle – there is still room allowed for Hawking’s sense of humour to shine through.

The film itself is an adaptation of Jane Wilde Hawking’s memoirs, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. As JaneFelicity Jones is very good. We see her loyalty and her determination to build a family and stand by her man, whatever the odds. Her strength and courage fuel her husbands. Her devotion is tested when she meets Charlie Cox’s, Jonathan, a widower who forms a bond with the Hawking family upon meeting Jane through the local church choir. It creates an awkward love triangle that acts as a significant part of the films overarching plot.

Benoît Delhomme’s photography goes out of its way to romanticise us (you will wear rose-tinted specs), and it often feels like we are skimming over important details. However, it is worth remembering that the film is about the private relationship of a man and his wife, and that the success of Hawking as a physicist is not the central direction of the plot – as much as we might wish it were.

Considering my great expectation, I found the film slightly dissatisfying – almost as if there’s a better story behind the story we’re being told. On the whole, though, it has enough to recommend it by and Eddie Redmayne is a true revelation.  3.5/5

About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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8 Responses to The Theory of Everything (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. filmfunkel says:

    I may yet break down and watch this. (I’ve been told one should never meet people they admire.)

  2. Chris Evans says:

    Another one to check out especially with all of the accolades but glad your review grounds expectations…the Austin Powers comparison was priceless, have to admit that did cross my mind! Great work as always Gareth!

  3. Kgothatjo Magolego says:

    I found this movie really disappointing. I felt like it wasn’t sure what story it was trying to tell. Redmayne defintely deserved the Oscar but after seeing his work in Jupiter Ascending, he should be glad that The Academy can’t take awards back

    • garethrhodes says:

      Haha! I have yet to see Jupiter Ascending, but I have heard that he really hams it up. I can see why you found this disappointing. Despite the undeniably great performance, it is lacking in other areas. I couldn’t help thinking there were more interesting and significant things that we weren’t being told.

      • Kgothatjo Magolego says:

        You know what I think the problem is sometimes with movies like this is that even though a person is extraordinary, their story might not be entertaining. So the filmmaker needs to use some poetic license and create some drama even if it isn’t 100% factual.

      • garethrhodes says:

        Perhaps so, even if it’s just minor, incidental things to flesh out the narrative. One of my problems with the film, which I’m not sure that I fully conveyed in my review, is that I felt it was all over-romanticised. We are asked to put on our rose-tinted specs and join in. I didn’t buy that, altogether.

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