The Theory of Everything
A Brief History of Time. That title alone is world-famous, a book in which acclaimed British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking explains a variety of topics ranging from black holes to the Big Bang Theory. In Focus Features’ new film, The Theory of Everything, director James Marsh beautifully shows audiences the life story of Hawking, from his time as a doctorate student up to his current battle with motor neuron disease (which is related to ALS, or more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
The film begins in 1963, when Hawking was a student at Cambridge University. Attempting to find one “simple, eloquent explanation” for the universe, Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) meets and courts a young arts major named Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). Their relationship is tested once Hawking is diagnosed with MND at the young age of twenty-one and given two years left to live. As simple motor abilities start to become difficult for him, Jane stands by his side as he finishes his doctorate and the two eventually marry.
Adapted from Jane Hawking’s memoir, Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, the film is a testament to true love and devotion as Jane and Stephen Hawking defy science and medicine. Although Hawking’s health continues to get worse, his condition is used as a catalyst to propel his career forward with his wife and children by his side.
Stephen Hawking is brilliantly portrayed by Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables). To prepare for a role that spans nearly thirty years, Redmayne met with a vocal and movement coach to understand the various stages of MND in order to portray Hawking justly. The little nuances and physicality he brings to the role, coupled with emotional subtleties, has already generated award-season buzz.
Yes, we celebrate Stephen’s life in the film, but it is Felicity Jones’s portrayal of Jane Hawking that steals the show. We can see her transformation from young liberal arts student to resilient wife and mother, as the symptoms of Hawking’s illness progress. Her yearning for human touch and companionship was sometimes painful to watch, as her own needs were pushed deep down to make room for her family’s. And as times get tough for the both of them, audiences are secretly cheering her on to finally make a drastic change in her life that does not involve Stephen (no spoilers here, but c’mon, it’s not rocket science… err, cosmology).
This is a definite must-see film. Academy Award winner Marsh has definitely used his talents as a documentarian to perfectly capture Hawking’s life, with all of its trials and tribulations.Rounding out the cast are Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, Simon McBurney, and David Thewlis. The Theory of Everything is in select theatres and hits nationwide on November 14th.