Prior to seeing The Theory of Everything, I’m hesitant to admit how little I knew about Stephen Hawking. Campy characters from The Big Bang Theory might have described him more eloquently than I. However, after seeing The Theory of Everything I agree that this was a story that needs to be told. Hawking’s life is inspiring and amazing.
The film starts with Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) as a PhD candidate at Cambridge. He is a plucky young man who seems surprisingly innocent and more of a dreamer than his colleagues. He meets Jane (Felicity Jones) at a party, where the pickin’s are quite slim and nerdy for the girls. Stephen and Jane hit it off immediately and their courtship is adorably romantic.
And then Stephen’s life is derailed. He is diagnosed with with ALS (that thing everyone forgot the Ice Bucket fad was about) and told that he will eventually lose all muscle control and be dead in two years. But Stephen has so much to do. He has to figure out how time works, and black holes and sciency stuff. And then there’s Jane. Could he let his love weigh down her life? But like a trooper, and a woman in love, she stays with and marries Stephen. After all, he’s only got two years to live right?
Wrong. We watch as Stephen’s condition worsens and becomes a constant burden for Jane. She has to feed him, occasionally prevent him from choking to death, dress him, take him to the university and take care of their children. Honestly, Jane is such a strong woman and Hawking owes her his life. While Hawking is an accomplished man of science, this film is a drama drawing on our emotions rather than challenging our intellect. The ups and downs in their relationship are the most poignant parts of the film.
That said, this film seems like the inevitable biopic of an amazing man against unbeatable odds that is always nominated for Best Picture. I’ve seen this same film formula under different names: My Left Foot, Pride of the Yankees, Forrest Gump, you know what I mean. However, I’d bet my left foot that Eddie Redmayne is going to win the Oscar for best actor. It seems to fall in the simple equation: he plays a famous, great scientist who makes the best of his life despite his crippling illness and plays it convincingly and with charisma. It’s pretty much in the bag.
The film’s other Oscar nominations include adapted screenplay, original score, best picture and Felicity Jones is up for best actress. That brings the total nominations to five for The Theory of Everything.
Honestly, The Theory of Everything is really good. It is smart, charismatic, emotionally heartbreaking and visually lovely. But I do not think it is great. If you’ve seen a few great movies that work like this one, then this one is just another to add to the mix. See it if you are a Stephen Hawking fan, or you want to learn more about his life. It is quite an interesting life he has lived.
“Your glasses are always dirty.”