I want to say that “The Theory Of Everything” was about something relatable, tragic and sympathetic, serving as an inspiration to audiences to never give up hope even in the face of tremendous hurdles.
I wanted to say that, but then the movie pulls a 180 and goes with a message of love that has been told time and again in many other forgettable romantic comedies. Now I’m not so sure what to think of “The Theory Of Everything.”
The story of Stephen Hawking is one that most people forget until they get to know the man. Everyone is at least aware of who Dr. Hawking is, or can remember his robotic voice and face. But people often forget how he got that way, and how he was still able to accomplish so much in the field of cosmology and black hole theory. The man tries to understand why the universe is the way it is and how it was created, even if he cannot utter a word ever again. Because his strength to discover the secret to all life is stronger than this disease consuming his body.
So naturally, when making a movie about that inspirational struggle, they decide to make it a romance. Because that makes sense.
In mid-1960s Cambridge University, a young Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is working on his thesis about how the universe was formed, until he meets the beautiful Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) and the two hit it off and start dating while Stephen goes off on his socially awkward tangents about the world. Things take a turn for the worst though when Stephen ends up in the hospital and is told he has motor neuron disease and his muscles will slowly deteriorate until he can no longer breathe, eat or swallow. He is given two years to live, and Stephen is going to make those years the most precious time of his life.
While there is plenty of discussion on how Stephen is changing the world with his theories on how the universe was created and going back to the creation of everything, once his first book is published, all of that is put on the back burner and we instead focus on the romance between Stephen and Jane.
The relationship between Redmayne and Jones is not necessarily bad, as both do a fine job, but it is uninspiring. We have seen this relationship before. The husband who is too focused on his work to get anything else. The wife who is supportive and kind, but wants more than to be a maid to her husband.
Outside of a few defining traits, Jane does not have a character. She goes with the flow and remains by her husbands’ side no matter what happens, until controversy rises and suddenly she’s willing to turn on her husband. This does not help build the relationship between Jane and Stephen.
That being said, the performances by Redmayne and Jones are the reason to go see this film, especially Eddie as Stephen Hawking. To watch this awkward kid turn into a confident, optimistic man with stellar ideas about how our existence works is nothing short of amazing. The fact that for the second half of the film he is confined to a wheelchair and he very little movement, yet is still able to carry this air of intellectual and unwithered says wonders about Redmayne’s ability to carry a scene.
Felicity Jones acts with her eyes in this role, letting her emotions pour through. Her sadness, compassion, strength and love for Stephen all shine through in her eyes. Without hardly ever saying a word, she can understand Stephen and make his journey all worth it. It is not hard to see why she earned that Best Actress nominee.
These performances elevate the film and make you realize that Stephen Hawking is more than just a metallic voice and thoughts about the universe, but a man who wants nothing more to make is life matter.
Overall, there is a strong message in “The Theory Of Everything” about fighting for what you believe in and not letting anything else get in your way. The problem is that it gets bogged down in the tedious and lackluster romance between the two leads. There is potential to let the audience relate to and understand the inspiring story of Stephen Hawking, but it feels like it got lost along the way.
Final Grade: C+
Categories: Movie Reviews