The Theory of Everything

Focus Features

Reviewed for Shockya by Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer

Director: James Marsh

Screenwriter: Anthony McCarten, based on Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, David Thewlis, Emily Watson and Maxine Peake

Release Date: November 7, 2014

Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) met Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) at a college party at Cambridge, U.K. in 1963. Their meeting turned into love-at-first-sight. While energetic young Stephen was racing on his bike in Cambridge’s streets, prim and proper Jane was attending church services, looking presentable with high heels, teased hair and fashionable outfits. After being given a diagnosis of motor neuron disease, with a life expectancy of two years, Stephen became depressed and wanted to end his relationship with Jane. We could “fight this thing” she said to Stephen and “I love him” to Stephen’s father. So they got married and settled into domestic life. As Stephen’s condition worsened so did Jane’s. He graduated from one cane to two canes and finally into the dreaded wheel chair, his legs and hands twisted, non-functioning, while his speech pattern was deteriorating. She morphed from a lover to wife to housekeeper, caregiver and a mother for their three children. After thirty years of marriage Jane Wilde got her “reward”: a divorce from Stephen and his marriage to Elaine Mason (Maxine Peake), his personal nurse and teacher.

This story could be described as a disease-of-the-week melodrama, except that it is based on the actual life of Stephen Hawking, an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist at the University of Cambridge. In spite of his illness he wrote the gravitational singularity theorems, the general relativity and the “black hole” theories. At age seventy-two he is still active in science, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974, had an audience with the queen of England, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2009.

Director James Marsh presents Stephen’s and Jane’s story with its trials and tribulations during the course of this 123-minute British drama and does not spare us the undignified side of a progressive disease.

We watch the agonizing deterioration of Stephen and his resolve to continue his works. Eddie Redmayne does an excellent job in portraying the scientist, with his disabilities and inability to lead a normal life. His voice is hoarse, speech is slurred and incoherent Mr. Redmayne spends most of his screen time in a wheel chair, while pressing buttons that will service his speech and writing needs. Anthony Skrimshire is featured as his stunt double.

Felicity Jones plays Jane Wilde in a proper manner, never complaining always ready to help her husband and kids.

Excellent supporting performances are presented by Charlie Cox as Jonathan Hellyer Jones, Jane’s second husband, Emily Watson in a five-minute role as Jane’s mother, David Thewillis as Dennis Sciama, Stephen’s teacher and Maxine Peake, in an underdeveloped role of Elaine Mason, Stephen’s nurse and second wife. The voice of the real Stephen Hawking can be heard through a computerized voice apparatus.

Photographed beautifully by Benoit Delhomme, The Theory of Everything was shot in Cambridge and other locations in the United Kingdom. Editing was done by Jinx Godfrey.

Rated PG-13.  123 minutes. © Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer

 Story: B

Acting: B+

Technical: B

Overall: B

By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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