My 2014 Movies: The Theory of Everything (#15)

This was the film I saw the latest of all of the films on this countdown. This also happens to be the only film on the countdown to be an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture. That should probably tell you enough about how good this movie is. In case you needed reassuring, though, I did enjoy the film very much.

The Theory of Everything details the life of acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking from the perspective of Jane Wilde Hawking. The film begins with when Jane first met Stephen in 1963. The two hit off a phenomenal relationship, and at the time Hawking began his famous search: a universal formula that would explain everything in existence. Around the time of his breakthrough, Hawking began showing signs of motor neuron disease, which would destroy his ability to perform voluntary actions such as talking, moving, and swallowing. (Think ALS). Despite his slim odds of success, or even living, he overcomes his shortcomings and will go on to be the finest minds alive.

The film recounts his first scientific breakthrough, his diagnosis, his transformation to the wheelchair and voice-machine, and bumps along the way of their tricky marriage.

The tricky part of trying to judge the story of a biopic is the fact that this isn’t made up. You can’t criticize elements of the story unless they ended up not being true. (This film is clearly accurate). So the workaround is to discuss the overall writing instead of the plot. And this film excels in that area particularly.

I saw this movie in the attempt to learn more about Stephen Hawking. Before this film I didn’t even know what he is known for studying, what his disease was, and pretty much anything about the guy. Thankfully, this film is told so perfectly that you come out feeling like you actually know the guy.

This is a very difficult story to tell properly mainly due to trying to fit every vital thing in about a genius with such an unusual past. One area you have to consider carefully is the window of which you base the film. I feel there was no better period of time to showcase. It fits everything in so practically and with perfect pace. They skimmed over just the right events and covered just the right moments and conversations. With that, everything just falls into place.

Allow me to take this time to cover both screenwriting and cinematography simultaneously. These are probably some of the film’s greatest accomplishments. Any film could’ve been shot in a straight-forward, basic matter and be decently effective. The Theory of Everything stands out. Again, it had to be so difficult to find the correct way to portray this story, but to make it appear properly is a whole other issue. Somehow they are able to use film to show Hawkings thought process, perception of a situation, and unconscious desires among other things. The use of cinematography to transition from one main event to the other (for example the wedding) is also very smooth and stylish.

Then of course is the acting, specifically that of the two main leads.

Eddie Redmayne had to play what I bet was one of the most difficult performance imaginable. To the untrained imagination, it’s very hard to relate to Stephen Hawking. Redmayne manages to show just as much charisma, charm, and emotion as he could in the first-third of the film even when his character can no longer speak or move.

Felicity Jones also deserves great praise for her portrayal of Jane Hawking. She shows the correct amount of strength and vulnerability that comes with balancing such a complex relationship. You can see the struggle in her eyes at times. At the same time, you see exactly why she remains with him all those years.

Really every actor pulls off the performances of their lives here. No one makes a poor showing that I can think of.

One final area of note is the score. The music is very emotionally-driven, whether in the intense sense or the intimate sense. There are moments like Stephens big fall in the beginning of the film that provide a panicky vibe that adds to the scene. Then there are moments like when he loses his voice that are more somber. All the while, the emotional impact of the score is very powerful whether portraying a happy, sad, or erratic event.

I will gladly recommend this film to anyone. Period. The only ones who may not enjoy the film that much are very young children; then again, the film isn’t made for them anyway. Whatever reservations you may have against this movie is futile. This is far and away the highest quality movie on this list! I’ll be glad to root for it in the Oscars.

View #14 here!

I’m SBox180 Thanks for reading!

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