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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Theory Of Everything | Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox | Review

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4sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD Judy Thorburn

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4lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD

 

The Theory of Everything

Stephen Hawking is world famous as a brilliant theoretical physicist and as author of the best selling book, A Brief History of Time. Yet, few know about his past personal life which is the central focus of The Theory of Everything, directed by James Marsh (Oscar winner for his documentary Man on Wire) from Anthony McCarten's screenplay based on Hawking's first wife Jane's 2007 memoir, Traveling to Infinity:  My Life with Stephen Hawking.

As it is said, behind every successful man is a great woman. A perfect example is Hawking's first wife Jane, an extraordinary woman that was the fuel behind much of his success until they divorced in  1995.

The romantic biopic begins in 1963. Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne, My Week With Marilyn, Les Miserables) is a nerdy looking 20 year old cosmology student at England's Cambridge University working on a PHD in theoretical physics when, at a party, he sets is eyes on Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) a smart and pretty arts major studying medieval Spanish poetry. They meet and fall in love, despite the fact that she is a Church going Christian and he is an atheist.

Their love is soon put to the test, after a bad fall lands him in the hospital and he is diagnosed with a devastating motor neuron disease (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease) which causes muscular decay and eventual loss of all movement. Told that he has only a life expectancy of two years, Hawking tries to push Jane away but she refuses to leave him and says that they will fight the illness together.

They marry, become the parents of three children and as time passes, his symptoms gradually worsen to the point that he is confined to a wheelchair. After developing pneumonia, a life saving tracheotomy is performed, leaving Hawking unable to speak, but later he is able to communicate by use of a computerized voice.

Although the disease ravages his body, Hawking's mind is not affected and nothing stops the genius  from continuing to explore his groundbreaking theories about time, space, black holes and looking for one single unifying equation that explains all forces in the universe.

When caring for her husband becomes too difficult to do alone, Jane turns to the widowed church choir conductor, Jonathan (Charlie Cox) for help as his caretaker, who soon becomes a close family friend and more.

Finding the right actor to portray Hawking was the key to this tremendously challenging, demanding role and Eddie Redmayne steps up to the plate with an outstanding performance, immersing himself into the mind, body and soul of the scientist that beat the odds and is still alive today at age 72.  Redmayne's physical transformation goes beyond his form and stems from memorizing the order Hawking's muscles started to fail, training for months how to move his body and teaching himself how to use a single facial muscle to communicate. For his amazing work, Redmayne should rightfully garner a Best Actor nomination, if not the award, at this year's Oscars.

Felicity Jones is also impressive, radiating a quiet strength as Hawking's self sacrificing, devoted wife who put her own career aspirations on the back burner to support and care for the man she loved.

Sure, there is scientific jargon and theoretical equations tossed around, but that isn't what this film is about. First and foremost, this is a love story about two strong willed, highly intelligent people whose marriage was faced with intense challenges, pressures and obstacles.

Beautifully directed, well paced and highlighted by superb performances, this intimate, revealing true to life story sends a strong message that it is not the challenges or limitations that define us, but how we choose to overcome them. Heartbreaking at first, the result is an inspirational, uplifting experience.

As for The Theory of Everything, or the one single unifying equation that explains all forces in the universe, it must surely begin with the most powerful force in all creation, love.

 

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