The Theory of Everything (2014)

theoryofeverything_2014_poster
The Theory of Everything (2014)
  • Time: 123 min
  • Genre: Biography | Drama | Romance
  • Director: James Marsh
  • Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis

Storyline:

This is the extraordinary story of one of the world’s greatest living minds, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who falls deeply in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Once a healthy, active young man, Hawking received an earth-shattering diagnosis at 21 years of age. With Jane fighting tirelessly by his side, Stephen embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of – time. Together, they defy impossible odds, breaking new ground in medicine and science, and achieving more than they could ever have dreamed.

8 reviews

  • When someone leaves an undeniable mark on history, a biopic is always likely to come along at some point or another. With the upcoming Selma following Martin Luther King (I say upcoming, I live in the UK so we have to wait) and recent hits like The Imitation Game following Alan Turing, someone like theoretical physicist Steven Hawking was all but guaranteed a film of his own. James Marsh took up the intimidating challenge of bringing the problems of Hawking’s personal life to the big screen with The Theory of Everything. How does the life of one of Earth’s most iconic minds translate to the world of cinematic storytelling?

    The film follows the relationship between Steven hawking and his first wife Jane Wylde, who’s autobiography the film is based on. Jane and Steven’s struggle of dealing with the physical deterioration he is put through due to Motor-Neuron Disease is the film’s main focus, with brief glimpses into Steven’s scientific accomplishment. The main challenge with a film like this is showing something as serious as motor neurone disease and not inadvertently coming across as offensive or inaccurate. Marsh did a lot of research into the life of hawking before shooting the film, as did screenwriter Anthony McCarten before writing a script. The result is an exceptionally realised depiction of the man, though not without some shortcomings.

    First and foremost, the absolutely extraordinary performance of Eddie Redmayne as Steven Hawking is utterly awe striking. The realism of the make up and facial prosthetics are merely an underlying part of the transformation that Redmayne had to undergo to bring this man to life. The honesty with which he brings the personality of Hawking to the audience is very moving, and his adoption of the physical/vocal difficulties Hawking had never lean towards parody or exaggeration. A truly remarkable performance from an actor who is merely stretching his legs in major film roles. I can not say if he is guaranteed the Best Actor oscar, but it would be a crime for him not to get nominated and, fresh off his Golden Globe win for Best Actor, it would not be remotely surprising.

    Felicity Jones is fantastic as Jane Wylde. Her role is a difficult one, both as an actor and as a challenge. As an actor she has a lot of responsibility to act as the guide to the audience, putting us in her shows and showing the difficulties anyone would have in Jane’s situation. As a challenge she has the taxing job of simply avoiding getting overshadowed by the powerhouse performance of Redmayne. Jones however lives up to every expectation and she definitely stands alongside Redmayne’s Hawking as the voice of reason but also the voice of the audience. The whole supporting cast are excellent as well with funny, intriguing and touching performances.

    The soundtrack is outstanding as well. Jóhann Jóhannsson presents us with a beautiful score that utilises arpeggios and a minimalist style that is given plenty of time to breathe is multiple scenes. The music is not exactly original, nor does it stand out with memorable motifs, but it is a truly lovely sound that captures the emotional angles exactly as it should be, giving us tragedy, joy and hope through haunting piano melodies that tug at the heartstrings. While the Birdman soundtrack is being shunned from the oscar table for some ridiculous reason, this soundtrack is definitely deserving of a nomination and a potential win.

    One of the film’s most common criticisms is one that I do almost agree with. While Steven’s brilliance in his scientific exploration is touched upon, there is a little too much focus on the romantic side of his life. While it is a very interesting part of Hawking’s journey, his truly remarkable accomplishments are deemed nowhere near as important as they could have been. I understand that a purely scientific film would not appeal to a lot of people, and his achievements are addressed a little bit, but an additional 15 mins of film to balance Hawking’s romantic life with his active physicist career, all in spite of his condition, would have been a truly remarkable thing to witness on screen.

    James Marsh’s direction is superb, with a beautiful rendition of Steven and Jane’s wedding feeling truly at home on the big screen. Nothing visually is wasted, though a couple of random dutch angles that stand out a mile do take away from the flow a little bit. When beautifully smooth direction suddenly gets thrown on its side to admire a beach diagonally, it is a little surprising and off-putting to say the least.

    Anthony McCarten’s screenplay is amazing, with some truly outstanding pieces of dialogue and absolutely hilarious moments that showcase Hawking’s sense of humour with a real flare. In spite of this life changing/threatening condition, Hawking remained supremely witty and still does to this day. McCarten has realised this fantastically with a funny, memorable and hugely enjoyable script.

    Overall this film is hugely enjoyable, with outstanding performances from Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, along with a great supporting cast and a brilliant soundtrack. While a couple of visual stumbles do briefly distract and the focus is a little too heavy on the romance, rather than what the title suggests, this film is still a fitting tribute to Hawking as a person and his emotional strength to live with such a debilitating illness. This film demonstrates a true fondness and a solid understanding of Hawking, along with his attitude towards how precious life is. As the man himself once said:

    ‘One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away’

    8/10

  • This film is highly recommended.

    You can certainly tell it’s Oscar time when all the more dignified and personal projects inundate the movie houses in hopes of capturing the gold. For most of the other nine months, we get lesser efforts and big blockbuster spectacles to fill-in until late October arrives. Then, it’s time to get serious about our cinema choices. The Theory of Everything is one such film. It carries its pedigree with style and class, even if it is a rather conventional biopic in disguise, with its main character suffering through a debilitating disease while finding the stamina to go on.

    With a very literate screenplay by Anthony McCarten and accomplished direction by James Marsh, the film tells the story of famed scientist Stephen Hawking and his battle with ALS. It also concentrates on his relationship with his supportive and loving wife, Jane.

    Love will conquer all. Or so it should. But the horrors of this disease and the hardships they face seem unsurmountable. We see the couple meet, fall in love, marry, have children, and grow weary of each other. Stephen achieves adoration, fame, and fortune while Jane takes a back seat to her caregiver role and bringing up the family, amid the tears and frustration they face on a daily basis. One immediately empathizes with these characters due to their tragic situations.

    The two leads are splendid and their acting is peerless. Felicity Jones plays Jane. Her role may be less showy and far more understated, but the actress is perfect at showing Jane’s endurance and strength in the subtlest of ways. Eddie Redmayne is Stephen Hawking and his performance is literally transformative. (He must have learned his craft from tons of research about Hawking and creative influence from Daniel Day Lewis.) This is an impressive physical performance, from his black horn rimmed glasses to his walking cane and distorted posture. Both will receive well-earned accolades for their memorable work. Fine supporting work by Charlie Cox as Jonathan, their loyal friend, and Simon McBurney as Stephen’s father add more clarity to the film.

    As with most biographical films, one sees the rise and fall of the protagonist before it arrives. This film follows that tries-and-true formula. But Marsh’s direction compensates for the linear structure and predictability of the story. The director relies heavily on his actors’ subtle actions to tell more about their characters than the mere words they speak. He also wisely shows Hawking’s point of view by angling the camera range from a lower stance or keeping it stationary to reinforce the characters’ immobility. The final scene, recapping Hawking’s life in reverse, beautifully sums up Stephen’s life full circle in the most visual of terms.

    But The Theory of Everything is foremost a love story. The film desperately wants to be a crowd-pleaser with an uplifting message of inspiration, even when the reality and truth of their actual lives is bleaker than it appears on screen. The film glosses over some factual content to play up the human drama of this pair of young lovers. It skillfully manipulates its audience to wallow in the heartbreak. Director Marsh successfully capture the pangs of young love and bittersweet romance in this emotionally involving film.

    The Theory of Everything is an immensely satisfying film with stand-out acting that any moviegoer and skilled direction. The proof is right there on the screen, even if the facts are slightly askew. GRADE: B+

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  • Quickie Review:

    A young scientist named Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne), is in search of finding a single unifying theory that explains everything about the universe. As ambitious as that sounds, it is made more challenging when he is diagnosed with motor neuron disease that will slowly take away his ability to move or speak. Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane (Felicity Jones) decide to fight the disease together, naïve to the difficult journey that lies ahead. Based on the life of Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything showcases acting of impeccable quality. An inspirational story of a man that overcomes his disability to pursue his passion. At the same time a moving story about human flaws. Definitely one of the finer films of 2014 that must be seen.

    Full Review:

    Stephen Hawking is one of the most renowned scientist living today. Considering how he was able to continue his research despite the motor neuron disease makes his contributions all the more impressive. Such an inspirational man, and yet many (including myself) probably are not aware of his personal story. I had high expectations for this film, and now that I’ve seen it I agree that The Theory of Everything deserves all the Oscars attention it has been getting.

    This is a wonderfully acted film by both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. The movie covers Hawking’s life from the 60’s to the early 00’s, so you get to see the disease progressively get worse. The way Redmayne shows the gradual effects over time was flawless. I’m not sure how he got his body and face to contort so accurately, but there were times where it felt like the real Stephen Hawking himself was on screen. The real brilliance of Redmayne’s performance was not how he looked, but how he was able to emote through the limited range of movement and speech. He was able to show the vulnerability and the humour of Hawking convincingly even in the later stages of the disease. Felicity Jones’ performance as Jane Hawking was crucial because her relationship with Stephen Hawking was the emotional crux for the entire film. Felicity Jones absolutely delivered, the emotional transformation that Jones’ character goes through is just as impressive as Redmayne’s physical change.

    On the top of the acting calibre, I liked how the script handled the characters. After being together for decades, of course the disease starts to affect the marriage. The script and the director could’ve easily made the relationship problems seem one-sided, painting one of the two as being wrong. Instead the film treats Stephen and Jane Hawking as real human beings. A couple that was naïve and flawed as any young couples are. Both are neither guilty nor innocent, but make very understandable and human mistakes. This ultimately made the film delightfully relatable and emotionally impactful. I have to mention how beautiful the soundtrack for the film was. Instantly from the opening scene the evocative music brought goosebumps to my skin. I have loved Johann Johannsson’s music in the past and this might be some of his best work yet. I am glad he is getting the recognition he deserves.

    All in all, I highly recommend The Theory of Everything. Some people are bothered that it is not a completely accurate story, to those people may I mention that Stephen Hawking himself has said it’s “broadly true” and reacted positively overall. So the film also got a seal of approval from Hawking. In the end movies are meant for entertainment and not a highschool textbook. In that sense not only was The Theory of Everything entertaining, it was a deeply moving.

  • The Theory of Everything is a true story of Stephen Hawking and his relationship with his wife, as well as his crippling disease. Before watching the film I never knew Hawking’s history, other than the obvious, this film gives you the chance to meet the man behind the ‘machine’.

    First and foremost The Theory of Everything gives you the chance to really get to know what Stephen Hawking was really like. Personally I always found it strange how a man of this intellect would appear on a show like The Big Bang Theory, but after watching this film, I understand. He is a great man who despite all his setbacks, managed to not only keep positive no matter what happened to him, but he never lost his humour.

    Portraying Stephen Hawking is not an easy job, but Eddie Redmayne (Les Misérables) does it convincingly, he full deserves his Golden Globe as well as any future awards. The effort Redmayne went through to portray Hawking is amazing and shows just what you can achieve as an actor if you go the extra mile. He is so convincing that Stephen Hawking himself…
    To read the full review click here.

  • With the Oscars fast approaching, we’ve seen plenty of biopics attempt to grasp the attention of the Academy. The latest to be released, James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything, is up for Best Picture and depicts the life of Professor Stephen Hawking from his time in college, his struggles with his debilitating disease, and his relationship with his supportive first wife Jane.

    At a Cambridge party in 1963, astrophysics student Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) meets Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), an Arts student studying the Romance languages, with the two hitting it off straight away. Hawking is shy yet highly intelligent and witty, Jane is also somewhat introverted but sensitive to Stephen’s intricacies. Hawking is still unsure what to complete his thesis on, which is worrying his Professor, Dennis Sciama (David Thewlis). After showing an interest in black holes and the creation of the universe, Stephen decides on his topic: time.

    Hawking is making great strides with his academia and his relationship with Jane, but soon he realises that he is having difficulty walking. After visiting a doctor, it’s discovered that Stephen is suffering from motor neurone disease, which will slowly paralyse him. He’s given approximately two years to live. Stephen tries to hide from Jane but she won’t give up on him, resulting in one of the most emotional games of croquet ever played on screen. Jane wants to have as much time as they can together, no matter how difficult that may be.

    One worry I had about The Theory of Everything was that it would focus entirely on the relationship between Jane and Stephen, and turn the film into too much of a Hollywood romance. However, this is not at all the case. Marsh has managed to strike a perfect balance between their relationship, Hawking’s work and how his disease would affect both. Based on Jane Wilde Hawking’s book Travelling to Infinity – My Life with Stephen, the film provides what seems to be an honest depiction of the support that Jane gave him and how it broke her down in many ways.

    Read the full review at http://www.thatothermovieblog.blogspot.com.au

  • Tony Barton

    The Theory of Everything is a movie about the much talked about Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist and Author, Stephen Hawking. The movie only briefly touches on the science that’s made him what he is today. Instead, concentrating, on his former wife Jane Hawking’s book: Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.

    The movie opens at a party, where Hawking (Eddie Redmayne), meets Jane (Felicity Jones), who’s a friend of his sister They strike up a conversation and find a real connection, so much so that Jane, scribbles down her number on a sheet of paper and hands it to Hawking before leaving. His relationship with Jane blossoms and they soon begin to spend more and more time together. However, he soon begins to find that simple tasks are becoming difficult and following an accident, tests confirm that he has motor neurone disease. He subsequently shuts himself away, as the condition begins to take hold and spends most of his time alone, that is until Jane begins to talk him round.

    The Theory of Everything is a beautiful peace of movie making, with Redmayne’s performance quite outstanding. You see Hawking the loving Father, caring Husband and a man who likes to make people laugh. A quite memorable movie that I am so pleased to have seen as it has made me see Stephen Hawking in a completely different light.


  • Jane : What are you ?
    Stephen : I’m a cosmologist
    Jane : What’s that ?
    Stephen : It’s a kind of religion for intelligent atheists.

    I must admit that I’ve seen this film a few weeks ago. Probably the fact that Eddie Redmayne was nominated for an Oscar, prompted me to see if he was a worthy contender for the coveted golden statuette. And the only thing I can say is that he totally deserved to win with his magnificent performance. I love to watch a biographical movie now and then. The only drawback is that I’m always a little bit disappointed about the subject covered in such a biopic and that the emphasis lies on something I wasn’t looking for. In “jOBS” I missed the philosophy this visionary had about the Apple phenomenon and the development of the applied interface (which is currently perfectly normal for everybody). The clash between Jobs and Gates was cited as a fait divers, whereas that interested me. Also in “The Theory of Everything” the focus was on other facets of Hawking’s life. What applies to both these films is the fact that the protagonists physically look an awful lot like the corresponding character. It’s creepy to see how they both manage not only to capture the emotional part, but also to match the characteristics and physical traits of these famous people. “The Imitation Game” is obviously also a biopic which, however, had a more adventurous twist rather than being a purely biographical sketch.

    You must admit that the performance of Eddie Redmayne is simply magnificent. Both excerpts from the college years, where he’s still healthy,lively and the way he finishes his studies in a nonchalant manner, as the portrayal of a genius who’s struck by a muscle disease, are brilliant and striking. A series of events wonderfully visualized using a variety of intense colors at certain times. The university professor who looks surprised at the solutions scribbled on the back of a timetable (10 math assignments which are almost impossible to solve I suppose, of which Stephen could ONLY solve 9). A family dinner Jane was invited to and where you already can get a sense of the intellectual atmosphere. The contradictions between Jane and Stephen when it’s about religion. Hawking who excludes everyone after hearing the terrible verdict and the determination of Jane. These fragments stayed with me and made it a fascinating film.

    Which theories the brilliant mind of Hawking produced in that cripple body, isn’t explained in detail. Here and there black holes, big bangs and the concept of time is mentioned, but eventually I was wondering what exactly Stephen Hawking’s ultimate contribution was to mankind. What Jobs achieved you can discover in any computer shop. And from Turing we know that he has broken the Enigma code. But what abstract evidence Hawking delivered, wasn’t clear to me. From one moment to the other he’s a celebrity and a much sought-after guest speaker. That a woman who lives together with a paralyzed person can’t really enjoy a thrilling,romantic life and that she’s actually the person who’s responsible for all practical matters in a marriage, is of course obvious. And that’s the central theme of this biopic: a loving relationship slowly falling apart because of a fatal disease, the awareness of limitations and the danger to seek solace in someone else’s arms. So it’s mainly a biopic about the wife of Hawking, instead of about Hawking himself. An insight into the life of mathematical genius, who could explain the mystery of the origin of the universe by using his phenomenal intellectual brain, is thus transformed into an ordinary dime novel about an unhappy woman who feels abandoned by her ever loving husband. And that’s something I wasn’t waiting for.

    Despite the romantic approach, I think it’s an admirable film. The situation Hawking is facing during his life, ensured that other qualities came up : humor and willpower. These two qualities are subtly incorporated into this film. Even the choice Hawking made at an older age about his marriage, took me by surprise (actually it wasn’t much I knew about the life of Hawking). Once again this proves that he sees himself as a normal functioning man. “The Theory of Everything” is a beautiful film that actually moved me and should serve as an example to show what one can achieve with the right attitude and a big portion of perseverance.

    More reviews here : http://opinion-as-a-moviefreak.blogspot.be

  • “There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.”

    The Theory of Everything is part biographical part love story based on the memoir Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking dealing with her relationship with her ex-husband, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, his diagnosis of motor neuron disease and his success in physics.

    The Theory of Everything has received praise for its acting (particularly for Redmayne and Jones), James Marsh’s direction, Anthony McCarten’s screenplay, Benoît Delhomme’s cinematography, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s musical score and its overall production. Catherine Shoard of The Guardian praised the film and particularly Redmayne, writing, “Redmayne towers: this is an astonishing, genuinely visceral performance which bears comparison with Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot.

    The film balances both beauty and fact with an elegance seldom seen in theaters. If I were to have it my way, both leads would be taking home golden statues for their challenging portrayals executed so effortlessly on screen.

    What appears to be one of the most challenging stories to execute has produced some of the most picturesque scenes in film this year…

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