Review: The Theory of Everything

TheoryOfEverything The lives of world famous physicist Stephen Hawkings and his wife, Jane Wilde, are ones of struggle, triumph, and astounding complexity. The Theory of Everything captures those aspects with incredible cinematic flair and grace. James Marsh directs Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as the dynamic couple as they weather the storms of disability while simultaneously reaching new heights. The film begins with a young Stephen Hawkings trying to decide the topic of his doctoral thesis while studying at Cambridge in the 1960s. He soon meets Jane, an English major,  and they are drawn to each other immediately. They hit it off and soon begin dating. Hawkings is invited to a presentation that jump starts his entire academic worldview; his thesis topic is soon chosen. The film's large message is about the relationship between Hawkings and Wilde, but no need to worry his science is still there. Playing as the backdrop for the entire film, the theoretical physics allows us to see his profound intellect at work.

Soon after a minor accident on campus, Stephen is unfortunately diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The disease causes an eventual and complete shut down of the usage of muscles and a considerably shorter life span. Upon hearing this diagnosis Stephen shuts down emotionally, both to his friends and to his new love, Jane. When she refuses to leave him, but instead fight the disease along side him, Jane becomes almost ethereal. Prior to this moment she was portrayed as a regular girl who liked this eccentric guy, but she clearly is much more.

As Stephen's body begins to slowly deteriorate his mind seems to get sharper and his career and notoriety grow ever so steadily. World famous for his theories as to how the universe began while losing the ability to walk is a powerful juxtaposition that director James Marsh plays with quite often. For every invite to lecture there is a physical hurdle that is put in front of this man. All the while Jane suffers in silence. She is his rock that he leans upon more than people could possibly know. Jane's ability to make Stephen and her life normal is harrowing. They have three children, who interact and know their father. Their lives almost seem totally mundane, but alas things are far more complex.

What is tremendous about this film in the end is that we see Stephen Hawkings fully realized. That sentence seems odd, and that can't be helped. In a way, Hawkings is that of an actual superhero of sorts. Accomplishing things that some can only hope to understand on the most basic of levels. I have never known him as the quirky guy standing in the corner, but rather the wheelchair bound genius of today. So to see him as I know him, in the form that is familiar to where my respect and admiration first began is something truly special to see on screen. Seeing the man goes through what he did to come out the other end as this hero is truly astonishing.

There are many things to say about The Theory of Everything, Stephen Hawkings, and Jane Wilde but the one thing that can not be ignored are the absolutely phenomenal performances of Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Firstly, Redmayne's Hawkings was pitch perfect. While we know the man more for his inability to move, Redmayne uses his facial expressions as the key to letting us into his world. Subtle and suggestive he makes the character all his own. The small facial changes felt genuine instead that of mockery. Redmayne did the real heavy lifting in the first third of the film and with expert precision. Felicity Jones stepped up to the role of Jane Wilde and never backed down. While she is purposefully shown a just a normal girl in the first third of the film, she takes the latter two-thirds on her back. Carrying the emotional weight of a woman who is pushed to the brink of what love can sometimes demand, which truly is the crux of their story. Ultimately a tremendous film visually, stylistically, and a showed a clear respect for the real world subjects.

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