Who would have expected that one of the most touching and moving love stories committed to film would center on theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking?
“The Theory of Everything” is a biography that doesn’t focus on the genius professor’s work examining black holes, quantum mechanics or the general theory of relativity — and thank God for that, I got enough of that from “Interstellar” — instead the spotlight is on his marriage to Jane Wilde Hawking and his struggles with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Directed by James Marsh and inspired by the memoir “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen” by Jane Wilde Hawking, the film opens in 1962 with Stephen (Eddie Redmayne) a graduate student at the University of Cambridge. One night at a party he meets Jane (Felicity Jones), who is studying languages. Both awkward and shy, they strike up a friendship that blossoms into romance.
But just as Stephen’s personal and professional life is taking off, his body begins to fall apart. After falling to the ground while walking on campus, Stephen is taken to a hospital for tests. The diagnosis: Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that would slowly cause his body — but not his brain — to waste away. The prognosis: Two years to live.
Stephen tries to push Jane away but she refuses. Instead the couple marry and raise a family, all the while dealing with the challenges of Stephen’s condition as well as the challenges that come from his success as a scientist and author.
I’m generally not a fan of romance movies but this one really worked for me, primarily due to two fantastic performances by Jones and Redmayne. While Redmayne certainly had the more challenging physical role — which he pulls off with impressive form — Jones is equally compelling as she struggles to keep it together while dealing with all the stresses pulling at her.
The film also boasts an impressive supporting cast and is lovely to look at. It’s a quality film that takes gives an intriguing look at a public figure that we know of due to his work but don’t really know that well.