WRITTEN BY: Anthony McCarten
DIRECTED BY: James Marsh
STARRING: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox
RATING: 4.5 stars
Physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is studying at Cambridge university when he meets Jane (Felicity Jones) at a party. As they get to know each other, the pair realise they have many differences. Jane is a Catholic while Stephen is an atheist. She studies the arts and he studies science. But none of that stops them from falling in love. When Stephen discovers he has motor neurone disease, he realises he must work quickly to finish his PhD and live as full a life as he can with Jane.
Stephen Hawking is one of the greatest living minds, so a film about his life was always going to be fascinating to watch. What is so surprising though, is that The Theory of Everything is not just about how motor neurone disease affected the life of a physicist – it really is an extraordinary story about life and love. Hawking himself has described the film as "broadly true" and even let the filmmakers use his voice for the final act. Writer Anthony McCarten has adapted the screenplay from Jane's memoir and with the blessing of the Hawking family, there is not much else for the rest of us to do but take it all in and enjoy the journey. Despite the obvious tragedy of Hawking's illness, The Theory of Everything is an inspirational and uplifting film.
Redmayne could not give a better performance and he is almost certain to win an Oscar after scooping most of the other awards this season. He captures Hawking's intellect, humour and vulnerabilities so well. Since Hawking is limited in his speech and movement, the film is just as much a story about Jane and the struggles she faces while loving and living with a man who doctors say will only live for a few years. As the decades pass, Jane struggles to keep it all together and Jones depicts her heartache with sincerity. Redmayne and Jones also have terrific chemistry. Charlie Cox rounds out the main cast as Jonathan, the choir singer who helps care for Stephen as he grows close to the family, and is very good in the sympathetic role.
Jane Austen famously said that if a book was well written, it was always too short. Indeed, the same can be said for a film. Director James Marsh gives us a two-hour film that is so intriguing and beautiful that I was not ready for it to end.