No question one of the year’s best films, I still have to confess I was not champing at the bit to see a biopic on Stephen Hawking. But The Theory Of Everything is not your average biopic because at heart it is really a love story and it comes not from the point of view of Hawking, but rather Jane his wife on whose book Anthony McCarten’s superior screenplay adaptation was based. With brilliant lead performances from both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, this film reveals aspects of Hawking we never really knew — at least I didn’t.
Spanning a quarter of a century we meet him in college when he was young and in love and a budding genius. But shortly after getting married he gets a devastating diagnosis of ALS and given no more than two years to live. That might be enough to doom any relationship but not this one, and it is due in large part to the power and determination of Jane who probably is the key reason he still is thriving even into his 70s, even though they have long been divorced. This film also doesn’t dwell on a lot of gooey biopic sentimentality, but shows the rough spots in their life together too.
Perhaps one reason it succeeds as well as it does is the direction of James Marsh, who won an Oscar a few years ago for the documentary Man On Wire. It might be that kind of authenticity a documentarian brings to the story that keeps it grounded and real. That, AND those magnificent performances.
The Theory Of Everything is a Focus Features presentation of a Working Title production and co-stars David Thewlis, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson and Simon McBurney, all very fine. It was produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner along with McCarten and Lisa Bruce and opens in limited release tomorrow. Check out my full video review above and tell us what you think.