Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Theory of Everything

Movie Name: The Theory of Everything
Year of Release: 2014
Director: James Marsh
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, Simon McBurney, Harry Lloyd, Michael Marcus, Adam Godley, Maxine Peake, Simon Chandler
Genre: Biography, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Director James Marsh has made a name for himself as a documentary director, having won an Oscar for "Man on a Wire". "The Theory of Everything" is his second feature, following the little seen "Shadow Dancer" which featured Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough. The film follows the story of Stephen and Jane Hawking, who meet in the early 60s while both studying in University. Hawking is studying physics at Cambridge, and is at the cusp of becoming a renowned physicist, however much to his horror and sadness, he finds out that he's afflicted with Lou Gehrig's disease. Initially Stephen tries to push Jane away, since his prognosis of life is limited, but her persistence, and their love, lead them both to marriage and to a life together. As the ailment takes away Stephen's ability to speak, and his motor skills, Jane is forced to find help since they have had 3 children in the meantime. As their life evolves and Stephen's acclaim and brilliance reach new crowds, so does the relationship between these two complex individuals.
Stephen Hawking is a brilliant scientist, one who has been met with hardship and challenges that are unfathomable by anyone. That he has managed to create a phenomenal career and simultaneously carve an inspirational path for everyone, makes him a perfect subject matter for a film. "The Theory of Everything" focuses on the relationship between Hawking and his wife Jane, particularly how their lives change and evolve as his ailment progressively robs him of his mobility and speech. The film depicts this relationship as one of complicity between these two people, but for all the intelligence and accomplishments the scientist has achieved, that's something that is barely touched by the film. The relationship is also seen from afar - for all the dynamics and tension that arises from these two people, that is strangely absent from being depicted in the film. The film is strangely placid, and too conventional in it's approach of a story of someone who is truly unique. The performance from Eddie Redmayne is a standout in the way it represents the progression of someone who is initially dynamic and full life, to someone who ends up being a prisoner of a body who has become non responsive. This film is a somewhat dramatically truncated viewing experience, particularly for a person such as Professor Stephen Hawking, who definitely deserves a richer and more layered story.