Front Row at the Movies
"The Theory of Everything" Doesn’t Cover Everything
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Even if you’ve never read "A Brief History of Time," you know Stephen Hawking is a genius. After all, you’ve seen him making guest appearances in his motorized wheelchair on TV’s "The Big Bang Theory." He’s kinda the poster boy for theoretical physicists everywhere.
He was the first scientist to set forth a cosmology explained by a union of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.
You might think people admire Stephen Hawking because he carries on despite being almost totally paralyzed by a motor neuron disorder related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease). But that’s not it. We admire him because he’s so darn smarter than we are. A Brainiac.
But as we learn in "The Theory of Everything" -- the new movie about Hawking that’s currently showing at the Tropic Cinema -- he doesn’t know any more about women than other guys.
Don’t confuse this one with the 2007 documentary that’s also titled "Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything." Originally broadcast on TV’s Discovery Science as "Master of the Universe," that earlier documentary explored Hawking’s theories about the nature of the universe.
Instead, this new feature film explores the nature of his love life. That is, his early love life, just as he and his fiancé learn that he has ALS. Their romance worked out to some degree: they produced three children.
Jane Wilde was the literature student Hawking fell for while studying at Cambridge in the ‘60s. This biopic is based on her memoir titled "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen." It’s a sweet, courageous love story … if we put out of our mind that he’s now on Wife Number Two and Jane has gone on to remarry also.
In "The Theory of Everything," we have Eddie Redmayne playing the famous British-born scientist. You’ll remember Eddie as the enamored young man in "My Week with Marilyn" or as heroic Marius in "Les Misérables."
And Felicity Jones plays Jane. She’s been acclaimed for her roles as the mistress of Charles Dickens in "The Invisible Woman" and as the British exchange student in "Breathe In." But more of you will recognize her for her appearance in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."
"The Theory of Everything" doesn’t spend a lot of time discussing Black Holes or Quantum Mechanics or space or time. Instead it focuses on the "science" of love, giving us the bad along with the good. Both Stephen and Jane are revealed to have flaws. No surprise there. We all do.
As directed by James Marsh (he won an Oscar for his documentary "Man on a Wire"), the film sometimes seems to forget the unique mind it’s chronicling, instead concentrating on a formulaic story about a relationship struggling under adverse medical circumstance.
Nonetheless, Eddie Redmayne gives the performance of his young career. Conforming to the twisted physicality and the recognizable tics, he captures his subject well. Oscar bait, to be sure.
As one wag described the film, it’s "A Beautiful Mind" meets "My Left Foot."
A nod must go to Benoît Delhomme’s gorgeous cinematography and Jóhann Jóhannsson’s resounding score. It manipulates us well, conjuring up a tear or two.
Word is, after viewing a rough-cut of the film, tears had to be wiped from Stephen Hawking’s eyes. The 72-year-old genius was pleased enough to allow the filmmakers to use his copyrighted computer-generated voice for the movie’s later lines.
Just how accurate is this depiction of perhaps the world’s greatest living scientist? After watching it, Stephen Hawking pronounced it "largely genuine