Dec 1, 2014

Movie Review: The Theory of Everything [2014]

The Theory of Everything is a James Marsh's movie about the life, struggles and greatest discovery of today's greatest physic Stephen Hawking (played by Eddie Redmayne). The movie starts when Stephen - a Cambridge science student meets Jane, his future wife, an arts student and leads to the point where they divorce and Mr. Hawking becomes widely acknowledged scientist for his black hole theory. Anthony McCarten's screenplay tells the whole story in between, how those two fought against motor neuron disease, Stephen was diagnosed while attending Cambridge.

This movie caught my attention from the very first trailer, which gave a brilliant idea about masterful acting of Eddie. It's always fancy to watch an actor playing someone living in the same decade as you, a person you have admired, read about, watched and especially, if that person has such some kind of disability - it definitely makes acting work a lot harder. So, I was very much wanting to know how Redmayne, who I'd loved for Les Miserables, dealt with it. Accordingly, it would be fair if I start with performances and especially him.

Eddie Redmayne would not necessarily be an obvious choice for this role. He has not done much before it and in the beginning, I could not fully get the idea of him playing such an important person in today's science. But then I watched The Theory of Everything and I was assured. I think he is good in every sense he could have been and especially in the second part of the film, where motor neuron disease takes over his life.

To begin with, shooting of the film has not been as successive as events in the film, they had to shoot parts from the beginning and the end the same time and Eddie had to switch form "healthy" Stephen to "disabled" one. Surprisingly, he nails both part of his job. In the beginning he is a shy, nerdy student, having his own world and visions, meeting a girl of his dreams and falling in love. As the story evolves, Hawking becomes more attacked by his disease and his physical capabilities become more limited. Eddie perfectly captures both emotional and physical condition of persons having the same problems. On the one hand, he is a scientist who wants to live just become he has something to prove and other other hand, he is a person in love who want to live because of a woman in his life.

However, his good acting is mostly defined by complexity of physical work, rather than emotional. But this struggle never goes away without mental stress and I think Eddie manages to bring the whole pack of feelings on the surface.

Felicity Jones received raving reviews - good ones and bad ones. I think mine would be more positive, than negative, because I really liked her. She was not extraordinary, or did she neither have some big emotional moments. To the contrary, her character is a quiet act, a person behind everything and still invisible. She comforts every her scene in the movie and masterfully captures the devotion Jane Hawking had towards her husband.

The rest of cast is not memorable at all, not in a good way, not in a bad way. They just were there, doing their job and I honestly don't remember most, even though I watched the film a week ago or so.
Anthony McCarten adopted Jane Hawking's book and transformed it in quite a good piece of screenplay. I would not dare to say that it was brilliant, or something, but it had some witty dialogues, with a lot quotable lines. My favorite is this one:
- I study marriage of space and time
- A perfect couple
 It's somehow weirdly romantic, isn't it?

So, the reason I only remember only romantic lines is far too obvious, this is where director and writer took it. I don't want to believe that biography of Stephen Hawking does not go further than his relationship with wife or children. I am sure there have been quite many ups and downs in his career or scientific works and telling a story about him, without actually showing Hawking working on something that made Stephen known, is just stupid. The only think I understand is that they filmed an award-bait movie, mostly focused on two leads and giving them anything that can grab couple of honors.

The Theory of Everything was visually well built with some quality production and costume design, good camera shots (the one pictures above) and impressive makeups. Most importantly, music was very good. Jóhann Jóhannsson created a romantic music that perfectly accompanied film's dramatic sequence and helped to tell the story a lot. I found myself pausing and rewinding the movie just to listen to specific track.

To briefly say, The Theory of Everything is a good movie in the sense of two lead acts, who very much will be remembered this award season and I am sure, at least, Eddie gets a lot attention. I honestly hope for Felicity's big chances, but you can never be sure if such a quiet role gets huge feedback.



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