Stephen Hawking is without a doubt of the most brilliant minds to bless this planet and casting Eddy Redmayne was a in the lead role was a masterful stroke. The Theory of Everything, inspired by the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking, is a romantic biopic covering the meeting of Jane (Felicity Jones) and Stephen, discovering and living with ALS, and the publishing of A Brief History of Time.
Redmayne embodies Hawking from top to crooked glasses to toe nail. I haven’t seen such a completely physically consuming, expressive, near doppelganger, acting performance since Chadwick Boseman in Get On Up. Redmayne also successfully portrays Hawking’s incisor wit and obsessive drive to work out the theory the title is named for.
As Hawking’s body continues to surrender to ALS, the heartbreak, stress, and fatigue of dealing with a chronic illness is lays heavily on his family as well as the audience. Thankfully the film does not get stuck, nor does it center despair of becoming disabled as the core of the story. The core of the story, beyond Hawking’s genius, is that of love.
The love Hawking’s has for knowledge, the love his friends and community have for him, the love of physics Hawkings inspires in others, and even the transitory nature of love as Jane and Stephen eventually divorce. Hawking defies a diagnosis that was meant to kill him decades ago to hypothesize theories that define our very present.
Hawking’s story is told beautifully with committed performances and lush costuming. However, it tends to go a little schmaltzy with one too many sepia toned, Super 8 replicated scenes of the family enjoying each other that became more show than tell. TToE shines every time Redmayne is the focus of the scene.
Hawking’s romance with Elaine Mason (Maxine Peake) months after he has lost his ability to speak (Stephen Hawking provides his own automated voice!) feels much more natural and organic than opening romance with Jane (Felicity Jones) and I wish there had been more time spent there. I also would have appreciated a little more science in the film as well. While Redmayne’s performance does incredible justice, I just need the film itself to catch up.