The Theory Of Everything is prime movie awards bait that features someone overcoming a physical ailment to succeed against all odds. I was cynical going into James Marsh’s film but I have to admit that it’s a charming piece of cinema with a well structured story and impressive performances from the cast. Marsh’s film is based on Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, the autobiography of Jane Hawking, the ex-wife of famed physicist Stephen Hawking. The film charts their relationship together as they struggle to cope with Hawking’s debilitating motor neuron disease.
Eddie Redmayne’s Academy Award winning performance is at the centre of The Theory Of Everything. It’s an impressive feat and Redmayne does deliver an incredible physical transformation into Hawking as his body continues to deteriorate. Cineasts will argue if his performance was better than Michael Keaton’s raw emotion in Birdman but you can’t deny the hard work that Redmayne put in. Felicity Jones also delivers a good turn as Jane Hawking – it may not be as flashy as Redmayne’s role but she emotes in a strong and subtle way as the wife and mother who struggles to keep her family together as her husband’s health suffers. However, annoyingly she never seems to age on screen throughout the decades that the film covers – maybe she is the true physics genius who managed to cross space and time.
Director (Shadow Dancer) James Marsh has mixed feature films with documentaries (Man On Wire, Project Nim) and he peppers The Theory Of Everything with enough physics to make it integral to the story without it ever feeling like a heavy physics lesson. It’s a balancing act worthy of Man On Wire’s Philippe Petit’ but Marsh succeeds in walking the fine line.
Marsh’s film covers a lot of ground in its 130 minute running time, although some events appear to have been glossed over. It would seem that Jane Hawking’s relationship with Jonathan Hellyer Jones (Charlie Cox) has been changed so that they only get together once Stephen Hawking has spurned her for his nurse. Jane and Jonathan would go on to get married but the origins of their romance never rings true.
The Theory Of Everything is an impressive biographical film that tackles one of the most recognisable men on the planet. It works well on a performance level and you can’t help but be fascinated by what unfolds onscreen.
The blu-ray comes with a selection of deleted scenes (with optional commentary) and Becoming the Hawkings, a behind the scenes piece showing how Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones got into character and a heavy commentary from James Marsh.