The Theory Of Everything tells the story of the relationship between world famous scientist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his first wife Jane (Felicity Jones). At a glance you might be put off by the thought of spending two hours in the company of a man postulating ideas about wormholes and the great expanse of the universe. But rest assured The Theory Of Everything is anything but a science lesson. Instead it is a quite exquisite journey into the heart of one of the greatest minds the human race has ever known.
Opening with their first encounter while both studying at Cambridge University the story never feels the need to delve too deeply into Hawking’s brain, although it frequently reminds us just how staggeringly intelligent he is with incomprehensible hieroglyphs scrawled over chalkboards. Rather how Jane was able to first meet the challenge of Hawking’s intellect before more than rising, indeed helping him conquer, his debilitating battle with motor neuron disease.
It may sound heavy-handed, it may sound depressing and something akin to a BBC drama of the week. But, thanks in no small part to James Marsh’s direction, Anthony McCarten’s script and Benoît Delhomme’s cinematography, it is anything but. Because in their capable hands there is a sense of determination, a sense of humour, and a look gilded in gold and hope.
At its heart The Theory Of Everything is about two very different people. The headstrong, logical and calculating Hawking and the religious, romantic and determined Jane. As Stephen’s father Frank (Simon McBurney) tells Jane “the weight of science is against you, and this will not be a fight Jane, this is going to be a very heavy defeat”. But history proved otherwise. Because between Stephen and Jane, and even now after their separation, they remain a unit, a strong unit. Indeed in Hawking’s mind they are almost certainly the unstoppable force and the immovable object. And witnessing these two forces’ tale unfold is a delight.
Key to this success are the two central performances. Redmayne proving every sinew and synapses in his body worthy of his Oscar win. His Hawking, even once his disease has taken hold, is rife with a sense of mischief, a glint in the eye that belies the truth of a man trapped by his own body. The range of emotion Redmayne is able to portray with the simplest of facial twitches is staggering and hugely powerful, the sentiment that less is more has never been truer. Opposite him Felicity Jones demonstrates why she is one of this nation’s not so much rising but soaring stars. Her Jane is so quintessentially English, stiffer-upper-lip hiding fragility to the circumstances that, behind closed doors, threaten to consume her and yet the resolve she repeatedly demonstrates is just as powerful as Hawking’s brain.
The Theory Of Everything is a film of pure magnificence, it will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions but none more so than uplifting inspiration. More than anything it is a film that transcends its subject matter to tell a story so powerful it will suck you in, spin you round and leave you glowing like a new born star.