Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Theory of Everything (2014) film review

Year: 2014
Running Time: 123 minutes
Director: James Marsh
Writers: Jane Hawking (book "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen"), Anthony McCarten (screenplay)
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis, Harry Lloyd, Christian McKay

The Theory of Everything is now showing in cinemas everywhere and is distributed in Australia by Universal Pictures.

The Theory of Everything is a fine, nostalgic piece of cinema which artistically incorporates in the most stylish and intriguing of ways the most important aspects of the life of it's subject, Stephen Hawking. Yet it is Eddie Redmayne's outstanding performance that remains at the forefront of all that is commendable about the film. Based on the memoir "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen" by Jane Hawking, the film pays tribute to Hawking's (Redmayne) extraordinary achievements in the fields of physics and cosmology while also focusing largely on his marriage to Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). When Stephen was diagnosed with a rare motor neurone disease and told he had only two years left to live, he and Jane embarked on a type of domestic life which neither had foreseen.

James Marsh's film is a rare form of biopic that reaches a point of equilibrium in it's storytelling, as it balances the story of Stephen Hawking's trials and achievements with that of he and Jane perfectly. Although the screenplay plays out a little slow on screen, it is gripping and moving as it is cleverly crafted and well written.

The film's biopic status can take away from the acknowledgement of an underlying theme which will resonate with many audience members and that is of a marriage progressing into a patient-carer relationship. Despite Stephen's public persona, the Hawking's marriage will no doubt be relatable for those who have experienced the hardships of a relationship like theirs and will prove an extremely emotional experience for them and also for those willing to open their minds as to what it would be like. One can only imagine how difficult it must be to be part of a relationship where one is not physically able to care for themselves and relies on the other to do so for them, and how emotionally, physically and psychologically draining it must be for the latter. This is perfectly represented in the film as one is prompted to understand this dynamic and feels great sympathy for both Stephen and Jane.

Visually, the film continues to pay tribute symbolically to Hawking through it's editing and cinematography. In many of the scenes, there is a visual emphasis on his feet and hands to emphasise his early motor skills and the progression into his ailment. There's also the focus on and close up shots of wheels at the beginning of the film (including the first scene in which Hawking is riding his bicycle) as they became a major part of his life, as well as the wondrous firework scene which can be interpreted to symbolise Hawking's academic theories. The film as a whole is rather nostalgic with wonderful costume and production design perfectly suited to the time period. The musical score by Johann Johannsson is also incredibly beautiful and moving which adds further emotion to Stephen and Jane's relationship.

There are some extraordinary performances in the world of film where it only takes a few minutes to know that this is a performance one will remember for a very long time and Eddie Redmayne's performance is one of those. From the very beginning of The Theory of Everything, Redmayne encompasses everything that Hawking is and has a great deal of character and character development. In what is a role that is extremely physical, he demonstrates tremendous skill by showing intense emotion while his facial expressions and other physical movements are restrained. Even with these restrictions, the chemistry he has throughout the film and the way it develops with Felicity Jones is superb. Jones is also wonderful and plays an extremely strong female character in her role as the wife who adopts a carer's role, but also tries to keep something of herself from before. She gives an extremely well rounded, inspiring and moving performance.

While it can be slightly slow in it's execution, The Theory of Everything is a film which is incredibly strong on reflection. It's main performances are without a doubt two of the strongest of the past year and is a beautiful tribute to an extraordinary human being.


1 comment:

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