We watched The Theory of Everything a few nights ago, and I was blown away by how well acted and directed and even filmed it is. It’s a beautiful, nuanced movie, and well worth your time if you haven’t seen it already.
The Theory of Everything is less the story of Stephen Hawking as a physicist than it is the portrait of a marriage. Both partners receive equal billing – not surprising since the movie is based on Jane Hawking’s account of her life with Stephen. Felicity Jones turns in a sensitive portrayal of Jane Hawking, whose love for Stephen is strained to the limits by his increasing disability. Eddie Redmayne is nothing short of brilliant as Stephen Hawking, conveying the man’s brilliance and diffident charm even as his motor control deteriorated. If you’ve seen photos of Hawking over the years, you’ll realize just how phenomenal Redmayne’s physical acting is – the more so when you realize that the movie was shot out of order, so that he had to portray the various stages of Hawking’s disease without regard to sequence. I was equally impressed by his subtle facial expressions, as well as those of Felicity Jones and Charlie Cox, who plays family friend (and Jane’s eventual love interest) Jonathan Hellyer Jones.
The rest of the cast give solid performances as well; I really enjoyed David Thewlis (Lupin in the Harry Potter movies) as Hawking’s PhD mentor and eventual colleague and friend. Cox was wonderful as Jonathan, the friend who helps Jane care for Stephen, and the growing affection and love between him and Jane was handled with delicacy and sensitivity.
Despite being a terrific movie, one which deserves all the awards and nominations it received, it was not an easy movie for me to watch. I tend to identify emotionally with the sympathetic characters in a movie, which made it especially hard to watch the Hawking marriage succumb to the strains and stresses on it. Jane, Stephen, and Jonathan are all hurting at various points, not despite their feelings for one another but because of them, and I hurt for them as I watched. Nonetheless, I’m glad I saw it; it’s easily one of the best movies I’ve seen or (I venture to say) will see this year.