This film has a lot to live up to as the biopic of Stephen Hawking, one of the most remarkable physicists of all time, released in the wake of other well-anticipated films such as Interstellar and The Imitation Game. Based on the book, Travelling to Infinity; My life with Stephen written by Jane Wilde, Hawking’s ex-wife, The Theory of Everything is centred on the relationship between the couple. A relationship made more complex and challenging by Hawking’s worsening physical condition due to motor neurone disease, leaving him wheelchair bound and only able to speak through a speech processor at the end of the film.
Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of the famous scientist is incredibly accurate and honest, with Stephen Hawking himself commenting that the actor ‘was so good at times I thought he was me’. The Les Miserables star manages to express both Hawking’s drive and enthusiasm for knowledge as well as a realistic portrayal of the intense pain and frustration that being diagnosed with only 2 years to live at the age of 21 provides.
The director James Marsh, also known for the 2009 film Man on Wire, allows the beautifully scenic background of Cambridge University to feature strongly throughout the film, providing great visual stimuli with beautiful buildings and the perfect romantic backdrops in the appropriate scenes, capturing the early days of the relationship between Stephen and Jane elegantly. Felicity Jones’s role as Jane Wilde stands alone as a stellar performance in itself, with the on-screen chemistry between her character and Stephen heart-warmingly realistic. Jane’s determination and strength in caring for Hawking whilst single-handedly raising a family reveals her grit and strong will that drives the narrative. Further to this, there exists a complex relationship between Jane and Jonathon, a local widower who helps looks after the children, that gradually becomes more intense and adds another dimension to the difficult situation Jane has to deal with.
Despite the tragic storyline and tear-jerking scenes, the production also has its comic moments with Hawking’s notorious sense of humour coming across during the film through various witty comments and quick thinking. However well-known, Wilde and Hawking’s story is truly inspirational and well worth a watch, a worthy contender for a number of awards this season.