Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Theory of Everything (2014)

"While there is life, there is hope."

I'm quite familiar with Stephen Hawking's career from reading both his biography and A Brief History of Time, both a considerable number of ears ago and t was inevitable, I suppose, that a major film should be made about his life and relationship with Jane; as we can see from A Theory of Everything, the events of Hawking's life are extremely well suited to being dramatised; it's not surprising that the film is bloody good. But what is surprising is that the performance from then-newcomer Eddie Redmayne is so utterly transcendent. At last I can see what the fuss was about. The Oscar is well-deserved.
Redmayne excels both as the awkward young man and as the older Hawking in his iconic chair.

The film starts with a shot of said iconic wheelchair and then immediately flashes back to the young Hawking riding a bicycle through the colleges of Cambridge in 1963- quite an effective contrast- on the day he meets Jane, and the film shows the development of his relationship with Jane, his meteoric career and the terrible gradual progress of his motor neuron disease. He's given two years to live, and that seems normal for the condition; I'm led to wonder why it is that he's fortunately survived for all these years.

The film shows us Hawking's stubborn, ambitious, attractively humorous and non-self-pitying personality but also the awful pressures on Jane of looking after Stephen with three small children in tow. The pressures on their relationship are shown with sympathy. It's also wonderful to see his colleagues treating him as normally as possible, a real sign of respect.

There are some nice directorial touches, with a cup of coffee symbolising a black hole, but the film rightly stands on its performances and the emotional heart of its story. This is a superb film.

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