This true life story, about one of the world’s most brilliant minds, takes moviegoers on an emotional journey so meaningful that it can’t be captured on a chalkboard with a science formula. It’s a trip even more personal than just about physicist Stephen Hawking’s many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics. Yes, The Theory of Everything covers Hawking’s dazzling, expansive mathematical mind as his frail body recoils from a deadly disease. However, it effortlessly illustrates how Hawking’s mind and body grew in opposite directions over time, affecting his relationships with friends, family and peers. No rapport is more compelling or influential to viewers than the one between Professor Hawking and his wife, Jane Wilde.
The Theory of Everything is based upon the memoir by Hawking’s spouse, Jane, titled Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables) portrays the brainiac Hawking and gives the strongest lead acting performance I’ve seen in years. Diagnosed with a form of ALS in the early 1960s at the age of 21, Hawking struggled with his debilitating disease as he pursued his Ph.D. and future wife, Jane, at the University of Cambridge. Redmayne convincingly showcases Hawking’s physical limitations as the film ventures into theories on space-time continuums and relativity. Redmayne’s physical transformation and slowed speech easily dwarfs Dustin Hoffman’s autistic, Academy Award-winning gem in 1988’s Rain Man.
While the movie chronicles Hawking’s math and science achievements on the world stage, it never spirals audiences into complex equations to solve. Rather, it painstakingly embodies Stephen Hawking’s budding marriage to Jane and the shifting dynamics in their partnership.
Academy Award winning director James Marsh (Man on Wire) phenomenally manages to turn this movie into a love story. In her brightest role to date, Felicity Jones plays Hawking’s wife, Jane. Jones’ endearing and heartfelt performance should land her an Oscar nomination come January. Few actresses can invoke emotion from others with only a look…the eyes and face more effective than needless words on camera. But Jones brings her own form of physical acting to this film, sometimes with a tear in her eye. At other times, she just provides a fleeting glance to steal a scene. Jones’ sterling role compliments Redmayne’s extraordinary job as Hawking, leaving both better off for the other’s work.
The Theory of Everything is an emotional story told by two exceptional and Oscar-worthy performances. Although it would be easy to sum up Stephen Hawking’s life as one of scientific gains or physical setbacks, it’s actually really about neither. Hawking’s perseverance and determination, as a result of Jane’s love and prodding, gave the physicist more than worldwide accolades and successful math formulas. It gave them both children and a new chance at life. Today, at the age of 72, Hawking continues to inspire others to dream, think and ponder the theory of pushing back time. This true love story will also spark viewers to fathom how they’d react to the diagnosis that faced Stephen and to which Jane agreed to help him fight. To that end, audiences should see this movie about love, strength and commitment. Hawking may have lost his voice, but he didn’t lose his will to survive…or his humor; “Quiet people have the loudest minds” – Stephen Hawking.
‘The Theory of Everything’ is rated PG-13 with a running time of 2 hours and 3 minutes.
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