Stephan Hawkins is properly the most brilliant man we have ever known. His research and the theories on general relativity and black holes are among the most memorable pieces of science of the modern era. Yet even with all those brilliant ideas, awards won and general iconic status, what is most fascinating about Hawkins is the man himself. His science books may be widely considered masterpieces by the science community but it likely wouldn’t interest the average Joe to much.
However the story of a man who was diagnosed with ALS while he was attending College and was told he had maybe about best two years to live, but who will soon be celebrating his 73rd birthday, is a story made for the movies. A story that can hook and even inspire and audience. It is a wonder it took this look to actually make a movie like The Theory of Everything.
However the wait was worth it because The Theory of Everything, is a wonderful, heart warming love story, that just happens to be about the most brilliant man on the planet earth. Deciding to focus on Stephan’s relationship with is first wife Jane, The Theory of Everything allows itself to fork in Hawkins great work as scientist, but keeps from being boring by giving us the story about how his mind overcame what he was told would be impossible and the women who stuck by his side through almost all of it.
Based on Jane’s novel Travelling to Infinity, the story starts out when Stephan (Eddie Redmayne) and Jane (Felicity Jones) were both in college and how they met for the first time at a college frat party. There was an instant connection and soon they became inseparable. While this is taking place we watch as Stephan has trouble coming up with a thesis topic. After becoming very excited after discovering something, he goes out running to tell his professor/ mentor Dennis (Dennis Sciama) and he trips and hits the ground with a thud. He is taking the to hospital and told he has ALS and has only 2 years left to live. Hawkins decides that his life is over and he wants nothing more to do with Jane, because he doesn’t want to cause her any pain. She refuses to expect this and thus begins their journey.
We see everything from the birth of their three children, to Hawkins becoming one of the most brilliant minds of all time, to novelist, to international superstar. We see the struggles ALS would have on Hawkins, taking away his ability to walk and talk. We get he introduction to the infamous chair and computer that Hawkins is famous for. And we see the way that all of this takes a toll on both Hawkins and Jane and how the temptation of love can get the better of even the most in love couples.
Director James Marsh lets us go through the entire story of Jane and Hawkins relationship , beautifully allowing the camera to just sit there and watch as intimate moments are shared and love is lost. Its is wonderfully directed with the use of colors to showcase different things that are going.
Eddie Redmayne gives perhaps the performance of the year as Stephan Hawkins. Redmayne has a hell of a task, having to show Hawkins through all the phases of Hawkins battle with ALS and he nails all of them, never once feeling like we are watching an actor, Redmayne literally becomes Hawkins. He hits every moment with pure perfection, capturing the mannerisms of both Hawkins and someone who is having their body destroyed by ALS.
This is a brave and stunning piece of acting that should easily find its way to an Oscar nomination and with any justice a win.
Don’t count out Felicity Jones though as she is nearly as perfect as Jane. Jones expertly captures a women who falls in love and than struggles with all her might to keep that love from fading, even though she never signed up for the long term. You can see the frustration and heartbreak in her every movement and this goes way beyond your tortured wife of a genies role. Jane is the glue that held Hawkins together and pushed him to be his very best and Jones showcases this in beautiful fashion.
The Theory of Everything may just be the feel good movie of the Christmas season. Even when things fall apart of the couple towards the end of the movie, the movie still finds away to make you feel good about it all and I assure you, you will leave the theatre with a smile on your face.