Cinéaste 006: The Theory Of Everything

There should be no boundaries to human endeavour. 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.

Title: The Theory Of Everything 
Director: James Marsh 
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Harry Lloyd, David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Charlie Cox 
Synopsis: The story of the most brilliant and celebrated physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking, and Jane Wilde the arts student he fell in love with whilst studying at Cambridge in the 1960s. Little was expected from Stephen Hawking, given just two years to live following the diagnosis of a fatal illness at 21 years of age. He became galvanized, however, by the love of fellow Cambridge student, Jane Wilde. Over the course of their marriage as Stephen's body collapsed and his academic renown soared, fault lines were exposed that tested the lineaments of their relationship and dramatically altered the course of both of their lives.

If there was an Oscar for 'best filter used on film', then The Theory Of Everything would win, hands down. On a purely aesthetic level, this film was absolutely gorgeous to watch - it looked like someone from Tumblr was in charge of the colour palette.

However, don't go into this film expecting a biopic of Stephen Hawking because this isn't really an exploration of the various breakthroughs Hawking made throughout his career. It is instead largely about his relationship with his wife, Jane Wilde Hawking. It is also good to know from the outset that the film is is adapted from Jane's memoir and is told from her perspective, not Stephen's.

While many elements of the film are wonderful, I couldn't help but feel that the script was a bit disjointed, and that director James Marsh couldn't quite decide whether he was making a soap opera romance or historically accurate biography. The narrative constantly seemed to be propelling itself forward at an increasingly breakneck pace, and I often felt that plot points were glossed over and not addressed coherently. This was a bit of a shame, because for all the inadequacies of the editing and script, this is a phenomenally well-cast and well-acted film.

Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones both give heartwrenching performances in this film, both full of nuance, but both almost entirely separate in their areas of expertise, much like their characters themselves. Redmayne, obviously, deals in the gradual, grating physical alterations Mr. Hawking's body underwent. But, more than that, once he has been reduced to his most restrictive state, Redmayne is still able to display significant emotional range, basically through his eyes and lips alone. Despite the hype surrounding his performance, I was truly impressed by it.

Jones, however, gives an emotional  and nuanced performance with a slew of brilliant moments. Her pining, affectionate kiss with Redmayne after learning of his diagnosis. The wandering, pained eyes after her first meeting with Jonathan. The frustrated, exhausted woman with ambition after she and Hawking visit his parents in the country. All of it is gold, and she hits every note perfectly during this performance.

The verdict? See this film for its performances, and try to ignore the heavy hand crashing down around them. If you can focus on the former, I can at least promise you'll be moved, despite the clumsiness with which Marsh tries to affect you. It's a beautiful film to watch, and I can't wait to follow the career of two such promising young actors.

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