The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything

(James Marsh, 2014)

Rating: 4/5

Reviewed by Dave Lancaster

Summary
: 'The Theory of Everything' isn't just a Stephen Hawking biopic; it's a riveting thesis on love and inspiration that ranks among the top of its class. James Marsh's film is wonderful.




"The weight of science is against you" is what Jane (Felicity Jones) is told when her Oxford university love Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given two years to live. Her defiant reaction to push on against this weight is what makes 'The Theory of Everything' so resonant.

She isn't governed by the harsh constraints of science; she finds her strength in religion and love, an almost blind faith and optimism in something else. Hawking, of course, became a pioneer in the field of science but, as James Marsh's incredible film drama 'The Theory of Everything' suggests, perhaps he wouldn't have gotten there without this counterbalance.

'The Theory of Everything' is a film that is anchored around such counterbalances. Inspiration and frustration; health and illness; tenderness and anger; explorations and explosions; beginnings and ends; everything and nothing.



Anthony McCarten's excellent script captures all of these elements and promotes them ahead of a typical bullet-point biopic narrative, placing moretrust in the actors to tell the story with what's untold. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones do remarkable work here, perhaps the best they'll ever do. Redmayne's transformation is expertly judged and is deservedly well represented in the awards season but Jones has just as much weight on her shoulders adapting alongside him with understated power similar to Tom Cruise's overlooked work in 'Rain Man' opposite Dustin Hoffman.

Despite the Oscar calibre work on display, 'The Theory of Everything' isn't just a vehicle for acting. Director James Marsh infuses the narrative with so many beautiful asides, exemplary framings and tiny riches. His attention to detail won him great praise for his documentaries such as 'Project Nim' and his Oscar winning 'Man on Wire', but 'The Theory of Everything' proves that he's a true talent on the fiction side as well.

'The Theory of Everything' feels less like a film and more like a snapshot, a thunderbolt of inspiration. It is inspired.

Return to the top of the page