Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Theory of Everything Review

After meeting the love of his life, young and brilliant Cambridge PhD student and physicist Stephen Hawking is diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Given two years to live but exceeding all expectations, Hawking goes on to develop new theories of space and time that will make him famous around the globe. His wife Jane meanwhile attempts to take the strain of attending to Hawking as they both learn to cope with his debilitating disease, while also bringing up their three children and putting her own studies on hold.

The Theory of Everything is based on Jane Hawking's own memoir which apparently was first published as a fairly angry expose of her difficult time with the genius behind the crippling illness. It was first written after they divorced (as depicted in the film) but then heavily revised after Stephen divorced his second wife and the pair have become very close again. On the one hand, that means we are getting a heavily sanitised view of Stephen Hawking, a rewritten version of events from a woman who has clearly mellowed with age. On the other hand, it also means that The Theory of Everything isn't a film driven by anger or the desire to destroy the reputation of a incredibly inspiring man, amd is all the better for it.

Yes Hawking has his faults (don't we all?) but this film isn't so much about trawling through his dirty laundry as it is a celebration of the love and the understanding that Jane brought to what must have been a difficult relationship. It is also not a relentlessly grim sob-fest that dwells continuously on the tragedy of Stephen's situation, inviting us to feel nothing but sympathy for him. It does have its moments of heartbreaking tragedy (the croquet game is sure to have audiences choking on their sobs) but more than anything, The Theory of Everything is an inspiring tale of a great mind, perfectly rendered by a powerful and mesmerising performance from Eddie Redmayne.

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