Ellie Wells ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS in 1963 while pursuing his doctorate in physics at Cambridge. At twenty-one years old, he was given two years to live. Even though he was already on his way to becoming the brilliant scientist people know him as today, he spiraled into a depression which his then girlfriend Jane helped him break out of. It is through Jane’s eyes that audiences get a glimpse into Hawking’s personal life in the biopic The Theory of Everything in order to see how he overcame so much.
The strength of the film lies in the performances, especially Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables) and Felicity Jones (The Amazing Spiderman 2) as Stephen and Jane respectively. Both actors prepared extensively for their roles. Redmayne studied Hawking’s lectures and looked at as many photos as he could. Despite the film being shot out of order, Redmayne perfectly captures not only Hawking’s physicality but his wit as well. Jones shows Jane’s inner turmoil as well as her strength. David Thewlis (the Harry Potter series) is also quite good in the film as Dennis Sciama, one of Hawking’s mentors.
Redmayne and Jones also have a believable chemistry; an early scene at Cambridge’s May Ball where they begin to fall in love is one of the film’s highlights. The third act is also particularly well executed. The talk Hawking gives after the publication of his book A Brief History of Time is a standout scene, as are the scenes which compose the dissolution of Stephen and Jane’s marriage. Yet, the film does have its shortcomings. There were several themes that were either skimmed over or not addressed at all. It would have been nice to have seen more of Stephen and Jane’s relationship before his diagnosis. Both the tragedy as well as the inspiration of one of the world’s most brilliant minds trapped in a nearly immobile body also felt under-explored. The film’s attempt at sentimentality often felt forced and saccharine.
Despite this, the film is an achievement not to be ignored, as it is likely that Redmayne and Jones will both be up for Oscar gold come February.
Overall Grade: B