The Theory of Everything (Movie Review)

Oscar-nominated stars Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables) and Felicity Jones, who you may remember from the 5-second tease she got in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as Felicia Hardy. Godammit, Sony, first you squander Paul Giamatti, and now this?

Right, enough with the filler posts, it’s time to look at  one of the most brilliant men to ever  live on this planet of ours. One who has tested the boundaries of physics and changed the way many people think about the universe.

It’s time to examine: Dr. Stephen Hawking’s love life!!!

You’re elated. I can tell.

 The Theory of Everything

 Directed by: James Marsh

 Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten

 Screenplay by: Anthony McCarten

 Genre: Biographical romantic drama

 Based on: Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Simon McBurney, David Thewlis, Harry Lloyd, Emily Watson, Maxine Peake

Music by: Jóhann Jóhannsson

Plot: In 1963, Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is just your average brilliant astrophysics student attending prestigious Cambridge University, where his hobbies include math, physics, not having a topic for his thesis, and hanging out with his buddy, Viserys Targaryen from Game of Thrones. One day, while doing whatever it is that upper-class university students do, he meets a student of Romance Languages named Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), and the two young whippersnappers fall in love almost immediately. What follows is the story of their long, loving, frequently troubled relationship, through Dr. Hawking’s devastating struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (You know, ALS). You know, Lou Gehrig’s disease.

You know, the thing everyone was doing this for a few months back.

Admittedly, this movie was far from the movie I wanted to see most out of this year’s Best Picture nominees. I had heard good reviews, just not overwhelmingly positive ones, and I just thought it looked like one of those movies that are specifically crafted to rack up nominations by simply existing within the Academy’s wheelhouse (Recent examples include PhilomenaThe Artist and Everything that Meryl Streep Has So Much As a Goddamn Cameo in).

Also, I think I speak for many beleaguered high school students of the world when I say that physics can go fuck itself.

Just imagining it makes me want to start texting and put off studying.

Anyways, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely incorrect in that assumption as the film does, in fact hit many familiar beats, but it is executed in such a way that made me shrug my shoulders and say “Who really gives a crap?”. It’s not the most creative movie in the class of ’14, but I thought it was still a terrific movie that deserves all the recognition it can get. Unlike my next reviewed movie, which I would erase from everybody’s memory if I had the flashy pen-type things from Men in Black.

DO SOMETHING!!!

While the main reason that this movie works as well as it does is, as you may have guessed, the two leads, whose relationship actually came super close to making me shed man-tears, the other aspects of the movie are very well done, to boot. It’s very well directed, and the cinematography is downright gorgeous, to the point where it can kinda feel like they’re romanticizing a bit much, but I didn’t find it to be that much of a problem. The writing’s fine, and done in a way that actually made me understand more about physics than I did in three years of high school, even if it does wisely take a backseat to the relationship between Dr. Stephen and Jane (Those of you wanting to learn more about Dr. Hawking’s work would probably be better off going to a library. Or Wikipedia, whichever).

Also, the score, composed by Jóhann Jóhannsson of Iceland (A country whose musical output I’ve greatly respected since learning about Sigur Rós), is very beautiful, and quite memorable if you’re not an idiot like me who enjoys watching so much movies in such a short period so that all the soundtracks sound the same to you. Seriously though, it is beautiful.

While the lead actors do get a lot of deserved buzz for their performances, the very talented supporting cast also shines as well, with no real weak links among the bunch. Charlie Cox (Of Boardwalk Empire fame) is super-charming as a friend of the Hawking-Wilde family, which bodes well for his upcoming role as everyone’s favourite blind Marvel superhero).

Madame Web, Obviously.

I’ve watched this movie twice so far, and during neither viewing did I realize that the dude who plays Brian, Dr. Hawking’s college roommate, is the same guy (Harry Lloyd) who played Viserys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. I guess I didn’t recognize him without his sadism, creepy relationship with his sister or flowing platinum locks. Or it could’ve been the noticeable absence of liquid gold cascading over said platinum locks. Yeah, probably that. Anyways, he does a really solid job, as does David Thewlis as Hawking’s professor. Stephen Hawking himself makes a cameo as his own computerized voice and really disappears into his role in a way that nobody else could.

Obviously though, the actors that have really captured everybody’s attention are Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, and as emotionally poignant and fantastic as Jones is, Redmayne’s is the one that truly stands heads and shoulders above damn near everybody else this year. I’m not just being my usual lazy self when I say that I can’t come up with a way to describe this performance (Although that is playing a part). You truly need to see it for yourself to know what I’m talking about.

So, for all my fanboying out over this movie, do I have any complaints with it? Well yeah, it’s not a perfect movie.

Now this… THIS is a perfect movie.

For instance, while the makeup and prosthetics team did a fantastic job with Eddie Redmayne to help him look the part of somebody with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, they really didn’t do that great a job of aging Felicity Jones to make her look like a fifty-year old by the end of the movie. I’m not bashing her performance by any means, and this doesn’t rate as a huge issue in my book, but it still took me out of the movie.

I guess it’s not like Felicity Jones can help the fact that she looks eighteen.

Also, this may just be a personal pet peeve of mine, but I am so fucking done with love triangles as a film trope, and there are two of them in this movie. TWO (This isn’t a spoiler, you see them coming from a mile away). I get that it’s what really happened, but I can only take much before it gets annoying. I suppose it’s handled well enough to cut out the “will-they, won’t-they” bullshit, but it still irks me quite a bit. I dunno, maybe the first season of Legend of Korra just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall: It’s more or less a conventional Oscar movie, but if you get as entranced by the emotional resonance of the movie as I was, you won’t give a damn.

Rating: 8.5/10

Next time on PKTM: I review Left Behind/contemplate agonizing forms of suicide.