TIFF 2014 Review: The Theory of Everything
It may be the moniker of scientific discovery he was seeking, but The Theory of Everything isn’t necessarily about acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking’s research endeavors. Instead, director James Marsh tells the tale of the powerful relationship he has had with Jane (Felicity Jones), the woman by his side through his times most in need.
In what is an incredibly potent and incomparable performance, Eddie Redmayne transforms into Hawking, from lanky, precocious Cambridge student to wheelchair-bound, infirmed professor still in love with learning and filled with endless optimism.
That sense of positivity underscores this sun-soaked, often whimsical and winning tale. Romantic and heartbreaking, Redmayne and Jones are the sole, powerful driving force. Stephen and Jane meet at Cambridge, and quickly their relationship takes a speedy and unconventional turn, with sudden family dinners, romantic affirmations, and of course a life changing discovery.
It’s not long after they meet, and indeed while Hawking is still in school that he is diagnosed with a disease that posits his death in two years time. Well, he goes beyond that timetable, adapting to a debilitating lifestyle with own motivations as well as unyielding determination and love from Jane.
While at times tragic, this is a love story that does not delve on that which cannot be done, but that which can. That is of course because of its two central figures, whose minds and hearts sought to overcome that which the physical body was incapable. In that, it’s a remarkable story regardless of the direction.
Even so, Marsh does well to propel an ambitious story (which most biopics tend to be), especially towards a second half that takes a late turn introducing a new and doesn’t seem to have a particular conclusion in sight. Nonetheless, the story wins from the pervasive sense of hopefulness and the palpable love felts from the two impressive leads.