The theory of everything chronicals the rise, fall and rise again of Professor Stephen Hawking from his days as an awkward Cambridge university fresher to the brilliant, wheelchair-bound, household name we’ve known him to be for many a year now.
It’ll come as no surprise that it’s quite an unsettling film and from the moment that Hawking is diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease and informed that he probably has, at best, two years to live, we have a rough idea of the sort of path the film will take.
The fact that Hawking is still with us over forty years later is medically remarkable but rather than scrutinising Stephen Hawking, the medical case study, The Theory of Everything focuses more on the touching and understandably rather melancholic story of his life and love; love that is, in the face of huge adversity.
Felicity Jones plays the object of Hawking’s affections, Jane; a pretty, sweet, yet surprisingly determined and emotionally strong girl. These are characteristics that will serve both she and Stephen well throughout the course of their relationship; from college sweethearts to married couple rearing a family, all the while mindful that the rapid and cruel progression of Hawking’s condition is likely to curtail the happiness of their union far too prematurely.
The performances are strong and assured throughout and whilst the direction is clearly geared towards the mainstream, it doesn’t detract from the intimacy and detail of the story.
Hawking, (played with eerie precision by the no doubt, Oscar-destined Eddie Redmayne ) is portrayed sympathetically as a man of great courage, keeping a brave face and self deprecating outlook on things in spite of such insurmountable odds. In contrast, it’s interesting to see Jane’s, at first stoic resolve, begin to wain as time goes by and the harsh realities of her unavoidable role in the marriage begin to take their toll. Director James Marsh focuses well on the no doubt immense frustrations, guilt, loneliness and resigned melancholy that they both must have experienced.
The Theory of Everything is above all, an affecting and at times very beautiful telling of a story that could so easily have been one of self-absorbed sadness and regret, yet, although this is no fairy tale with a standard happy ending, it does nonetheless leave us believing that anything is possible and that life and indeed love, even if not in the way me might have come to expect, can and will find a way. Given the context, an unlikely, yet very welcome sentiment, you’ll surely agree.