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Friday, December 12, 2014

Brief Thoughts: The Theory of Everything (Movie Review)


I really enjoy putting my reviews together.  I honestly wish I could delve deeper into certain movies, but alas, I get incredibly busy and can sometimes only deal with movies to a briefer extent than I would prefer.  This is why I write these occasional "Brief Thoughts" posts on movies I have seen, as I want to at least offer some of my own perspective on them.  They may not be as polished, but I can at least get my opinions out there.  This Brief Thoughts is focused on The Theory of Everything, the drama based on the life of physicist Stephen Hawking and his former wife Jane Wilde Hawking.

The Theory of Everything:  3 out of 5

Jane Hawking: I have loved you.

The Theory of Everything is an incredibly well-acted film that does little to break the bounds of convention.  I am happy to shower praise upon Eddie Redmayne's performance as Stephen Hawking, along with Felicity Jones for her strong work in the long-suffering spouse role, Jane, but there is only so much to really say about this film after that.  No doubt director James Marsh (of Man on Wire fame) put great care into the making of this film, but what I can see as being very commendable and sure to gain a lot of traction in the upcoming award season, merely worked for me as a strong melodrama based on true story.


The film is pretty straightforward in its presentation.  We begin with Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking at Cambridge in the 60s and his meeting with Felicity Jones' Jane.  the film gives us some basis for the type of scientific study Stephen is working on, but the film certainly does not try to give any lessons.  Instead, we get a much larger look at this relationship and how crippling disease became a major setback for Stephen and Jane, despite the commitment to the relationship the two share and the genius work that Stephen is capable of.  As the film goes on, there is more to delve into, with regards to how Jane must deal with her place here, even as various other characters enter the lives of these two people in their attempts to help.

What really works in a film like this, which I find to suffer from having so many familiar elements is the sense of empathy we have for both characters.  Stephen is obviously pushed into unknown territory, as he must deal with ALS and what that means for the use of his body.  Jane is pushed into territory she could have never predicted, but the movie does not at all forget about her or depict her in any light that could be construed as negative.  Given that this film's script was adapted from a book written by Jane, it is understandable to see why portrayals function in the way that they do, but it also feels wholly appropriate, given the type of story being told.  I cannot speak to how true this film is to real life, but I do not really have to either.  It is a film and I am judging it as such.


Still, as much as I enjoy the kind of stance this film takes and the very strong performances, particularly from Redmayne, who must obviously put his all into playing Stephen Hawking, I cannot say I was drawn into this film as much as it may have wanted me to be.  The whole production is handled well enough, but felt fairly familiar in what I was seeing on screen.  It does not take away from the effort put into a film like this, but after a point, there is only so much appreciation I can give to a biopic that portrays a certain known figure, but does not really expand upon the type of film that it is in a way that seemed significant to me.

There is enough here to recommend though.  Again, the lead performances, along with nice supporting work from Emily Watson, David Thewilis, and Charlie Cox, give the film enough in the way of prestige to earn the consideration it is getting for various amounts of consideration and I enjoyed seeing what James Marsh could bring as a director to a narrative feature.  With all of that in mind, the film is good enough for a watch and quite good-looking to watch, just not much more than another entry into the fairly standard end-of-year biopic crowd.

Stephen Hawking: There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at.  While there's life, there is hope.

[Note: I really enjoyed the end credit sequence]

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