The Theory of Everything
Directed by James Marsh
The Theory of Everything 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.
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★★★½ review by CinemaClown on Letterboxd
People really need to set their expectations right before diving into this so-called biopic of Stephen Hawking because The Theory of Everything isn't really about the various breakthroughs Hawking made throughout his career but mainly concerns his relationship with his first wife, Jane Wilde Hawking. Remember that it is adapted from Jane's memoir & is told from her perspective, not Stephen's.
The Theory of Everything tells the life story of Jane & Stephen Hawking who meet for the first time at a party in 1963 & there's an instant spark between the two. Their relationship blossoms but tragedy occurs when Hawking learns that he has motor neurone disease. Devastated by this diagnosis, he loses all hope but Jane gives him a reason to live for. The two eventually marry but Hawking's deteriorating health keeps testing their relationship.
Directed by James Marsh, The Theory of Everything is a work of incredible warmth & affection as Marsh does a superb job with the given script & is painfully honest with its content. The script sidelines everything to focus entirely on the relationship dynamics. Cinematography provides a glossy layer to the whole picture, Editing keeps the narrative quite engaging for the majority of its runtime, and Jóhann Jóhannsson's score is very intimate, beautiful & heartwarming.
Coming to the performances, Eddie Redmayne's illustration of the renowned theoretical physicist is extraordinary for the young actor is completely immersed in his physically challenging role & nails Hawking's mannerisms with breathtaking precision while Felicity Jones is equally committed in her role of Jane Wilde Hawking & her emotionally resonant performance is as impressive a highlight as Redmayne's jaw-dropping work. And its supporting cast does a fine job as well.
Sure it feels a bit manipulative on certain instances, sure it conforms to the conventional cliché that behind every successful man lies a great woman, sure it travels a route that doesn't involve much risks or bold decisions & sure it concludes on a rather lackluster note but the on-screen chemistry between Eddie Redmayne & Felicity Jones plus their performance is so magical, convincing & full of charm that it ultimately brushes away most complaints.
On an overall scale, The Theory of Everything may not be the Stephen Hawking biopic many might have been looking forward to but it nonetheless works as an awe-inspiring love story that offers an insightful peek into the personal life of an unusual couple. An endearing & entertaining piece of filmmaking that's technically polished & works magnificently on the strength of its two leads, The Theory of Everything is a delightful experience.
Full review at: wp.me/p3KleJ-1jb
★★★½ review by Naughty aka Juli Norwood on Letterboxd
A excruciatingly tame biopic that glosses over the more salacious aspects of Stephen Hawking's life! Having checked my sources it all makes sense now that I am aware the film is based on his Ex-wife's memoir!
The film failed to go into great detail about the theories or contributions renowned physicist Stephen Hawking's made to the academic world so it falls short of shedding light on one of the most mysterious and iconic figures of this day and age!
Nonetheless it was a riveting film that left me salivating with a desire to learn more about both his professional life and personal life! He is truly an incredible and inspirational man!
Eddie Redmayne's performance was out of this world! No scratch that it's out of this freaking stratosphere! He wasn't just mimicking Stephen Hawking's he WAS Stephen Hawking's! I wouldn't be surprised if he won the Oscar for Best Actor!
And if he won.. It would be incredibly funny if Stephen Hawking wheeled out to the podium pretending to be Eddie Redmayne just to get his mitts on the coveted Oscar!
★★★★ review by Evan on Letterboxd
Well color me surprised. Going into The Theory of Everything, I had the idea in my head that this film was going to be pure Oscar Bait. I was wrong. I actually genuinely enjoyed this movie quite a bit.
The leads were so believable. Eddie Redmayne was outstanding as Stephen Hawking. In my eyes he deserves to win the Oscar. However, I will be rooting for Michael Keaton because I enjoyed Birdman and his performance better. Felicity Jones without a doubt deserves an Oscar Nomination. I am truly impressed.
★★★½ review by Scott Anderson on Letterboxd
Stephen Hawking truly is a remarkable man. His achievements, especially while fighting his battle with ALS since he was diagnosed at the age of 21, are beyond extraordinary. He has literally changed the way the world thinks and has provided humanity with a better understanding of existence. Just trying to comprehend his Wikipedia page gives me a headache because it is so vastly consumed with career accolades and discoveries and important personal life information.
Thus, you can imagine my disappointment when his biopic The Theory of Everything turned out to be rather unremarkable.
It isn't a bad film by any means. In fact, it is quite good, but it also constantly felt safe and familiar, like I had seen it all before. Reminding me very much of the tone and beats of the former Best Picture winner A Beautiful Mind, in a year when I have been challenged by the ambition and scope of films like Interstellar and Boyhood, nothing about the story or the filmmaking during The Theory of Everything felt audacious and unique enough to really leave a lasting impression.
I actually found myself a tad annoyed during the film by the usage of lighting, as I found techniques that are often times used more subtly during films to be ridiculously on the nose, specifically during the more well lit, positive moments. I noticed the opposite during various scenes, like when the bad news of Stephen's illness is delivered to his girlfriend, and the frame was overwhelmed by the drabness of a lifeless blue, a cold setting for a moment deserving of it, but I didn't find this to be jarring or bothersome. However, during joyous moments, like the first time Hawking holds his baby or a later sequence when he sees the woman he loves, sunlight pours in through the windows and makes the subjects in the frame glow almost angelically. Instead of merely demonstrating warmth through color and sunlight, director James Marsh forced me to practically squint in order to follow the scene. I appreciate using mise-en-scène to set the mood, but this went above and beyond and felt forced rather than natural.
On a performance level though, that is a whole other story with The Theory of Everything and worthy of any award recognition that is sure to come. Felicity Jones is excellent as the first wife of Hawking, Jane Wilde, and she perfectly compliments the show stealing, sublime performance by Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking. Without yet seeing this film, I picked Redmayne to walk away with the Oscar for this role based on early word of mouth alone, and now that I have experienced the performance I will not be changing that pick. At his worst, Redmaybe was excellent, and at his best he WAS Stephen Hawking. I was blown away by the transformation and the authenticity that he brought to the screen, it truly is something special that everyone must see to appreciate.
The Theory of Everything finds itself running with the top dogs towards award season, and the best analogy I can make as to why I feel it doesn't belong in the Best Picture hunt involves figure skating at the Olympics. Some films out there are going on that ice and attempting the most challenging, innovative routines, understanding that to slip a little or not land a move perfectly is acceptable when the overall product is extraordinary. The Theory of Everything is the skater who goes out and plays it safe and simple in order to land everything perfectly, technically a fine show but no one will remember it for years to come.
Except, of course, for those performances. Eddie Redmayne? Give him the damn trophy now.
★★★★ review by Steven Sheehan on Letterboxd
James Marsh's film should at least allow people to see beyond the modern genius image of Stephen Hawking. It is based on the book released by his first wife Jane which talks about their thirty years together as man and wife and subsequent years spent working with him. The robotic voice, the bent head and the slim body in a wheelchair discovering amazing brings about our universe, has long been what we understand of Hawking and this film adds a personality to that.
It may seem strange to suggest that a man who at the age of 21 was told he had two years to live, who went on to revolutionise physics whilst suffering from a crippling disease needs humanising. The very nature of what he has achieved against such odds should be enough but to the majority of the general public, he has remained something of an enigma. Mostly the film concentrates on Stephen and Jane's marriage, which is the right decision, as the last thing we need is another A to Z run through of his most commonly known facts.
The noise everyone has heard outside of actually seeing the film is the performance of Eddie Redmayne. He embodies the physicality of the man perfectly but most importantly he evokes his spirit, the gleam in his eye and the wicked sense of humour bursting through his sideways smile. Jane Wilde appears as much, perhaps even more than Stephen and the portrayal of the huge sacrifices she made in their relationship is beautifully displayed by Felicity Jones. It would be a shock if they were both not nominated by the Academy in a months time.
It would be naive to think that the details of the marriage as we see it played out in the same way, as most biogs take liberties for dramatic effect. However the most surprising thing is how emotionally engaging their story is, which is a result of Redmayne and Jones' depth of character. Yes it is manipulative in places and oddly a tearjerker about our greatest living scientist but it remembers that beyond such staggering intelligence, there has always been a life and a beating heart.
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