It’s fair to say that the Theory of Everything’s success or failure lies purely on the shoulders of Eddie Redmayne’s performance as world renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. Fortunately, Redmayne more than lives up to the tall order of playing one of the most recognisable scientists that the world has ever seen. There was certainly a degree of controversy surrounding the use of a non-disabled actor to portray a figure who in his lifetime has become a role model for disabled people across the world. However, having Redmayne play Stephen Hawking both in his early life as an able bodied person, and in his later life that saw him wheelchair bound after being stricken with motor neurone disease, allows the viewer to connect his earlier and later life together in a way that perhaps could not have been done had there been another actor portraying the older Hawking. It’s an astounding, towering performance, a surefire hit come the impending awards season.
Felicity Jones’ performance as Hawking’s wife Jane is assured and capable, and the two combined have great on-screen chemistry. Don’t be deceived by the biographical subject matter; this film is very much a romantic drama in a biopic’s clothing, and the emphasis is placed firmly on the romantic relationship between the two leads, with Hawking’s tremendous achievements in the world of science taking somewhat of a back seat. One shining positive about the film is its sense of humour. Whilst dealing with such a serious subject as a man’s affliction with a debilitating disease, the script gives hints of the subtle tongue-in-cheek tone that Hawking himself has become known for, which are both charming and, at some points, laugh out loud funny. Heartwarming, inspirational, and genuine, The Theory of Everything is a very enjoyable experience.
Images: Universal Pictures