The Theory of Everything – 2014
Director James Marsh
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, Simon McBurney, David Thewlis
Screenplay by Anthony McCarten based on the book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking
To see The Theory of Everything is to see glimpses of brilliance, and the kind-hearted woman he loves. We get enough to see that it is no ordinary man…or couple, for that matter. It deals with pride, propriety and theory in doses not always equal, but is satisfying enough to give the viewer a look into the people who went into making the man everyone agrees is brilliant and for me, helped to create one of the more memorable latter-day Pink Floyd songs. If you are looking for a theoretical debate on physics, however, pick up one of his books. This one is based on his wife’s more universally relatable point of view.
We start out with the young couple to be discovering one another at a campus party in 1963. We see their romance blossom just as Stephen (Redmayne) is gaining a foothold on his thesis on black holes which would become the foothold for his fame in the afore-mentioned field of theoretical physics. This is also the time when Hawking discovers that he has developed a motor neuron disease that will control his body for the rest of what might be a shortened life. His girlfriend, Jane (Jones) is undeterred. Soon they are married. Not long after, their first child is on the way.
They end up having two more children, she ends up completing her own degree and taking care of him for almost 30 years. Along the way, he reverses his theory about black holes being able to help speculate the start of the universe and becomes even more famous. Jane is ever faithful to Stephen, even if his reality drains her. She finds something out about herself when she starts to sing for the church choir.
The performances are very touching, and relatable. It is difficult for me to ascertain how much is convention and what actually happens in their real life, The essence of the burden of both of their lives, as well that of family friend Jonathan Jones is shown with tenderness and absent of the kinds of antagonists that are usually thrown into these stories to ratchet up the tension. Quite the contrary, we are given a chance to see life happen devoid of blame (even if the sadness remains) when people evolve.
It is well worth the viewing if for nothing else than a chance to see the human side of a person I have heard the robotic voice of for as long as I can remember. There is little to learn here of his theories, and the filmmakers do a good job of deflecting his atheist beliefs. Each of which would only serve to detract from the main point of the film. Redmayne’s performance is without flaw, and definitely deserves the Academy Award for best Actor. He’s changed my mind, even after his horribly wretched performance in Jupiter Rising and Gyllenhaal’s marvelous performance in Nightcrawler.
Speaking of that main point, the film ends after he and Jane visit with the Queen of England, where he is offered but turns down a prestigious award of some type. The real reward is revealed in a walk in the courtyard afterword. He looks to his Jane and lovingly tells her “look at what we made.” That is the Theory of Everything for me.