Eddie Redmayne is one of the greatest young actors out there (loved him in Les Mis), so it is no surprise that he is able to pull off one of the great acting feats of the year, namely playing Stephen Hawking in James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything.
The Theory of Everything tells the story of one of the world’s most important physicists, focusing on Hawking’s college days and the early years of his marriage to Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). While there are bits and pieces of science throughout the film, highlighting Hawking’s unique achievements, The Theory of Everything, which is based on Jane’s book about her life with Stephen, is primarily a drama about the relationship between Stephen and Jane. Particularly impressive is the way the film shows the flaws in their personalities and the disintegration of their long marriage. There was also some fine supporting work from Charlie Cox (as Jonathan, their vicar) and David Thewlis (as Hawking’s mentor).
Stephen Hawking is an amazing person and his story is riveting stuff. Redmayne is absolutely brilliant but it was Jones who really impressed me because I hadn’t seen her before. Jones had almost as challenging a role as Redmayne and she pulled it off remarkably well. The score and cinematography were also excellent, as was Anthony McCarten’s screenplay, up to a point.
The Theory of Everything is compelling biographical filmmaking, but it does sometimes feel too much like a typical family drama dealing with a medical crisis and not enough like the story of a great physicist who has changed the way we think about the universe. I think that was a mistake and that’s why The Theory of Everything gets only ***+. My mug is up.