Last week I wrote a review saying how I felt that Michael Keaton deserved the Oscar for his turn in the film ‘Birdman’. While I may not see this film as being superior, I can’t help but believe Eddie Redmayne gave probably one of the best on-screen depictions of another person in my life. ‘The Theory Of Everything’ is a biopic which chronicles a space of nearly thirty years in the lives of Stephen Hawking (who should have accepted his knighthood, but I respect his choice) and Jane Wilde. Eddie Redmayne portrays Stephen Hawking in such a way that I honestly could not believe. The acting from beginning to end is just superb and the period of time it covers just flashes by effortlessly. The film begins in 1963 in Cambridge University and quickly brings together the pairing of a young Stephen Hawking and his to-be wife Jane Wilde (played by the fantastic and underrated Felicity Jones. Remember her as Ethel from The Worst Witch TV show?). We see the two young students come together and begin to form their relationship as Stephen Hawking begins to work on his theories in regards to black holes. Jane, showing a high level of intellect, is shown to be doing her own work to work towards a PhD in romance languages. Jane is seen to meet the Hawking family and the relationship between the two bloom throughout.
During this time, as Stephen continues his thesis into black holes and Jane is doing her work in literature, Stephen begins to show weakness in his grip and his walking is slower and more sluggish. Eventually, Stephen collapses and is then given the diagnosis that he has motor neuron disease. He becomes reclusive and struggles to accept his fate, especially after being given only two years to live. Stephen is eventually brought back to the outside world after being influenced by his friend Brian (a roommate whom I don’t believe is actually a real-life character) and when Jane tells Stephen that she loves him. What follows on from this is Stephen Hawking’s journey to become a world-renowned theoretical physicist while he battles the illness which has gradually taken his ability to walk and confines him to a wheelchair. His work continues to get a lot of attention from the scientific world and he continues to rely on Jane to help him in his life.
Jane, however, shows a lot of pain as she struggles to keep Stephen comfortable and becomes upset as she can’t work on her own thesis. The children come and also make it hard for Jane to do anything apart from care for her family. Jane is then seen to develop feelings for church choir conductor Jonathan. The two become very close and feelings are shown and confessed by both sides, but are put on hold after Stephen’s mother Isobel questions the paternity of their third child Timothy and when Stephen falls ill during a concert in Bordeaux. The time passes and Stephen begins to develop a relationship with his nurse Elaine (who would become his second wife), he also adapts to life with a computerised voice box which helps him communicate after he has a life-saving tracheotomy. He uses this box to write a book, which he calls ‘A Brief History Of Time’. We also get to see the moment in which both Stephen and Jane finally call time on their marriage. They acknowledge they love other people and mutually split up. The rest of the story rolls out and shows the closeness that Stephen and Jane hold following their split and how they will always care for each other.
Adapting this story from Jane Wilde Hawking Travelling To Infinity: My Life With Stephen. This film made a great point of showing the lives of both Stephen and Jane as they first meet to when Stephen receives his biggest acknowledgements. The story is very heart-warming, emotional and rather humorous in places. James Marsh, best known for documentary film ‘Man On Wire’, delivers a great film journey with one of the world’s most famous mind’s and the woman who stood by him through everything. Felicity Jones really plays her part well and makes you forget about that Felicia Hardy in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ character that was completely wasted. Felicity Jones brings a great emotional impact to the film and shows her heart throughout the two-hour running time. The biggest of applause though must go to Eddie Redmayne. I can’t see how this guy could have done a better job, his portrayal of Stephen Hawking is just mesmerising. I felt myself really gripped by his presence. His gradual deterioration does not look forced and his journey from young astrophysics student to the man we recognise today. The film in places did seem to skip over vital areas, I think there could have been more on the personal struggle that Stephen Hawking must have gone through, we see a few flashes of his upset over the illness, but not enough to feel the full impact. This film may not beat Birdman for my top film of 2015 so far, but it by far has got the best performance I will probably see all year. Give Eddie Redmayne the Oscar, the Golden Globe, the BAFTA and let us just celebrate the fact that he made ‘The Theory Of Everything’ a very engaging movie.
Final Rating: 9/10
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove