“I have two years to live,” says Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne). “I want us to be together for as long as we’ve got,” replies Jane (Felicity Jones), his first love who’s determined to be his wife and love him until his dying days in the dramatic film The Theory of Everything based on the true story.
When he’s just 21 years old and attending Cambridge, Stephen Hawking meets the girl of his dreams – Jane Wilde – at a Cambridge party. Stephen and Jane have an almost instant connection, the sparks fly and the couple quickly fall deeply in love. It’s during this time in his incredible life that Hawking receives the horrible diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease and is told by the doctor he has about two years to live. Depressed, scared, and angry, Stephen withdraws from his best friend, his classes, and even from Jane.
Jane believed their relationship was moving along smoothly and doesn’t understand why Stephen’s refusing to see her. After being told by his friends about his condition, Jane confronts Stephen and admits to him she’s in love with him. Thinking it’s hopeless, Stephen still tries to end the relationship but Jane refuses to give up, telling him she wants them to be together for as long as they have. Even when Stephen’s own father tries to talk Jane out of staying with Stephen for her own sake, she is adamant that she will remain by his side until the disease ultimately takes his life.
Together, Stephen and Jane tackle an extremely hard life, breaking barriers in medicine and science, with Stephen studying the one thing he believes he has little of: time. Focusing on the beginning of time and blackholes, Stephen becomes a renowned astrophysicist doing more and living longer than anyone would have ever hoped for, with Jane right by his side.
The Theory of Everything is both a biography and a moving romantic tale that shines mostly due to the stellar performances by the film’s two leads. Eddie Redmayne gives an unforgettable performance as young Stephen Hawking, capturing the man’s lengthy battle with a devastating disease as well as the man’s wit and brilliance. The way he twists and contorts his body and even his voice is truly mesmerizing and worthy of an Oscar nomination.
Felicity Jones is dynamic and flawless in her performance as Jane, Hawking’s wife who is much more than just a pretty face but a strong, determined, and passionate young woman who refuses to give in or give up on her love when everyone around her is encouraging her to quit. Redmayne and Jones have wonderful chemistry together on screen, especially in the early part of the film when they first meet. The scenes showing how their relationship began and built toward marriage capture marvelously the infatuation and nervousness that comes when falling for someone.
The supporting cast is solid, with standouts including David Thewlis as Dennis Sciama, Stephen’s professor and mentor at Cambridge, and Harry Lloyd as Brian, a friend to both Stephen and Jane.
It’s unfortunate, however, that in the second part of the film the tone and writing changes from being an engaging romantic drama to a melodramatic big screen soap opera with a few clichés. The pacing also becomes painfully slow and at times tedious. However, overall this story of strength, hope, determination, and love is an inspirational film that should not be missed due to the extraordinary performances by Redmayne and Jones.
The Theory of Everything is rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and suggestive material.
– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
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