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|The Theory of Everything|
dir James Marsh
scr Anthony McCarten
prd Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Anthony McCarten, Lisa Bruce
with Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, David Thewlis, Maxine Peake, Harry Lloyd, Enzo Cilenti, Simon McBurney, Emily Watson, Christian McKay, Alice Orr-Ewing, Lucy Chappell
release US 7.Nov.14, UK 1.Jan.15
14/UK Universal 1h03
Star-crossed lovers: Jones and Redmayne
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Based on Jane Hawking's autobiography, this film traces her romance with Stephen Hawking through the momentous events of his life. By keeping the focus on the relationship, rather than the science, the film manages to engage the viewer in a personal way that's sparky and sometimes very emotional. And the performances are beautiful.
In 1963 Cambridge, Stephen (Redmayne) is a rising-star genius whose geeky exterior can't hide his incessant wit. It's easy to see why Jane (Jones) falls for him, then just as their relationship gets serious Stephen is diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given two years to live. But Jane won't let him give up. She marries him and has three kids, getting help from two rather too-friendly helpers: widowed choir director Jonathan (Cox) and medical assistant Elaine (Peake). Even if their marriage ultimately wobbles under the pressure, they remain a formidable team.
McCarten's script slices through Hawking's life, simplifying the timeline and skimming over the scientific details, which offers a resonant perspective. Underscored by Hawking's lifelong pursuit of an overarching theory that explains existence, the film's emphasis is on his interaction with people, including his tutor (Thewlis), colleagues (Lloyd and Cilenti), father (McBurney) and of course Jane, Jonathan and Elaine. In all of this, Redmayne manages to maintain Hawking's quirky sense of humour and strikingly observant personality even as his body begins to fold in on itself.
It's a remarkable performance that's charming and likeable, but never flashy or saintly. And Jones matches Redmayne step for step as a woman with her own passions who knows that life will not go as expected for them. But they are a team, raising their children and facing whatever comes along. As the interlopers in their closed circle, Cox and Peake provide scenes that are laced with flirtation and insinuation that develops perhaps a bit too neatly (surely real-life was a lot messier).
Marsh is a refreshingly unsentimental filmmaker who refuses to over-egg any of this story, so the tendencies for hero worship are averted at every point in lieu of a more personal drama about people facing what life throws at them. This means that the audience has a much better chance of identifying with Stephen and Jane, which kind of undermines the whole "change the world with what you've got" message. Because not many of us posses the brains to reinterpret everything about time and space.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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