Insightful, light, dry. Eddie Redmayne’s performance is by far the most captivating aspect of this movie which also offers a fascinating story and inspiring premise. Recommended? Not the most exciting movie, but an interesting story nonetheless.
At the centre of this movie is a brilliant performance by Eddie Redmayne that single-handedly makes the whole movie worth watching. His ability to portray the slow decay of Stephen Hawking is breathtaking and, after a while, it is easy to forget that he is just acting. This meteoric rise is similar to that which Matthew McConaughey made in Dallas Buyer’s Club, playing similarly less challenging roles for a long time before taking on a game changing one that will redefine his career. Also performing well in this movie was Felicity Jones. In her publicity rounds for the film, she comes off as very sweet and innocent. But on screen, she ages and shows a more determined and forceful side, growing to a standout performance and making her a force to be reckoned with.
The writers behind this film took on the task of putting together a film that brings together the story of Hawking’s scientific achievements, his deteriorating health and his strong, but strained relationship with his wife. The film is based on the book written by Jane Hawking, telling her side of the story about her husband. The movie, however, tells the story through Stephen’s eyes, with Jane’s struggles only thrown in a side note. This decision was a risky one, since screenwriter Anthony McCarten chose to take a story written by the less popular Jane about Stephen and make it mostly from his perspective. This decision allowed viewers to focus on Stephen’s achievements and physical deterioration and gave Redmayne a stronger platform to showcase his skills. But while this decision ended up working artistically, what does that say about movie goers? Is her side of the story less important? Is this film an example of how even though Jane was the one who told the story, is she really just a footnote in Stephen’s life, despite all that she really did for him?
Overall, The Theory of Everything is, all said and done, a good movie. In some senses, it feels as if it has been written purely to showcase the acting prowess of Redmayne and Jones, as it really does not overly excel in other areas of production. It is not that these areas were bad; they just did not stand out. Fortunately, a movie like this, which is built on story-telling, should not have to rely on its production efforts and it in no way does. The audience sees what it needs to see and is left to draw its own conclusions. While it does fall flat in pacing at times, it is nonetheless a good movie that is worth watching.