|Review by Caitlyn Thompson|
The Theory of Everything is a composition of triumph through hardship delivered with amazing talent.
The film focuses on Stephen Hawking’s personal life, which are built and broken by his incapacitating illness and undying devotion to cosmology and astrophysics.
It’s an intense against-all-odds biopic that can be repetitive at times, and teases us with Hawking’s intellect instead of expanding on it, but regardless of the lacking scientific detail, the performances outshine anything that’s missing.
Eddie Redmayne’s delivery of Stephen Hawking’s experiences after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease provides an authentic view into the life behind the science, and the woman, his wife Jane Wilde, who stood by his side aiding him physically and supporting him intellectually.
Redmayne is phenomenal. There aren’t enough compliments I can pay the actor for his palpable and breathtaking performance. Immersing himself fully into incredibly taxing bodily contortions, he manages to express the terror of a great mind being trapped inside a disabled body. Beginning from the tremors in his hands to his hunched position in a wheelchair, Redmayne never falters – his mannerisms are eloquently genuine, and he expresses Hawking’s wit and charm expertly. The whispers of an Oscar are not unfounded.
Now, The Theory of Everything isn’t about Hawking’s science or the details of his illness, so much as his wife, Jane (Felicity Jones), and the difficulties of being his partner, lover and friend. While Redmayne’s performance is nothing short of brilliant, Jones is wonderfully powerful and sympathetic as well. Her role is complicated and subtly mesmerizing as she transforms from an innocent religious girl full of admiration, to a hardened woman whose blunt mannerisms and brashness are heartbreaking.
Jones’ steady levels of unrest and loyalty are consistent throughout the film, though towards the end become a little weary (perhaps suitably so as her character’s exhaustion increases with the film). While her experiences and strength are incredible to view, I felt the film should have delved deeper into the development of Hawking’s time theories instead of spending so much time in his home. Bits and pieces weren’t enough for me.
The initial scenes of Redmayne thinking and calculating through shifting eyes and quivering lips were awe-inspiring. And as the actor continued to show Hawking’s self-deprecating humor through an essentially paralyzed body I wanted to see how he continued his research, what that looked like, how he came to his brilliant conclusions.
The supporting performances of David Thewlis and Harry Lloyd only enhanced the story. As the colleagues of Hawking their portrayal of admiration and heartbreak are palpable. They bring forth mixtures of fury and awe towards Stephen’s diagnosis and endurance with smooth deliveries that only add to their co-stars equally wonderful roles.
The Theory of Everything is a beautiful film, shot delicately, in and out of focus with warm colors and predominantly close-up shots, and you’ll be enthralled by the complicated and poignant story that is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking.