In an industry that is focused on spitting out a new biographical movie about Johnny Cash every 15 minutes, it’s hard to find a biographical movie about someone I’d actually like to watch. All that changed when I saw “Theory of Everything” a movie based on the life of Stephen Hawking.
Starring Eddie Redmayne (“Les Misérables”) and Felicity Jones (“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”), this film follows the life of the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. But it’s not all math and earth shattering scientific theory. Instead, there’s a love story thrown in when Stephen meets a fellow student at Cambridge, Jane Wylde. It follows Stephen after he got his earth shattering diagnosis at the age of 21, and continues on through his life and his major works. The movie was based on Jane Hawkins book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen and is directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh (“Man on Wire”)
Whenever Hollywood puts out a movie based on a living subject, they tend to paint that subject with a lighter brush. This is no “Mommy Dearest”. You’re not going to discover any shocking revelations here. I think the most successful biographic movies change the way you think about the person. In this case, while I might know a bit more about Stephen Hawking, the way I think of Stephen Hawking hasn’t changed.
That is not to say that this movie still isn’t hard hitting. We watch as Hawking goes from a healthy boy sprinting across campus, to an incapacitated man who can’t even speak. Despite that, he maintains that air of eccentricity that we all know genius physicists have.
I think a good part of this was due to the incredibly skilled acting of Eddie Redmayne. He was able to fill both roles easily, the roll of Hawking as the young, healthy man, and the role of Hawking as the older and incapacitated one, and create a seamless transition. Facility Jones pulled her own weight as well, playing the indefatigable Jane with grace and sensitivity. It would be a shame if these two leads didn’t get an Oscar nod for their performance.
This movie is pure Oscar bait, but I don’t think it goes deep enough to actually win the award. It feels restrained, like they were afraid to insult the title character. To be honest, I can’t blame them. I’d be afraid to piss of Stephen Hawking too. The man is a genius physicist and I’m pretty sure he could blow up my house using Google maps if he wanted to.
The fact is, we see what we already know of Hawking. We watching him face insurmountable odds to become one of the most brilliant minds physics had ever seen. We watch his supportive wife, sticking by his side through thick and thin. We see a tortured genius and the woman that loves him.
Holy crap, this is a bit like a Johnny Cash movie.
It’s a bit too superficial in my opinion to win much at the Oscars, but it’s still an extremely well done, intelligent movie. This is no 12 Years a Slave, but it is still worth the watch.
WE GIVE IT: 4.5 STARS! Official Movie Trailer and Movie Poster Below.
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