Thursday, November 20, 2014

Movie with Abe: The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything
Directed by James Marsh
Released November 7, 2014

The intersection of science and emotion is an undeniably interesting place to dwell. Scientists, by nature, aren’t typically graced with excellent social skills, and therefore seeing the relationships they are able to build is particularly worthwhile. In the case of Stephen Hawking, the world’s foremost theoretical physicist, he managed to be charming enough to win the heart of Jane Wilde, a colleague at the University of Oxford, despite the pull of his studies. This science-centered love story inserts a considerably different hurdle, as a genius able to solve nearly any problem is faced with the impossible reality of not being able to control or solve his own deteriorating condition.

“The Theory of Everything” begins as a whirlwind romance, with a young Stephen and a young Jane making eyes at each other at a party and then proceeding to have several captivating dates during which Stephen shows off his brainpower and Jane responds in kind by acknowledging his impressiveness without seeming too giddy. At the same time, Stephen is hard at work proving that time has a beginning and that he can trace it back to that scientific start. A sudden decline in his health reveals a debilitating and terminal illness which should kill him in less than two years, and as Stephen despairs, Jane steps in to show her enduring love and determination to keep him alive and functioning, continuing to make the world a more intelligent place.

This is a story about two people, a strong, supportive wife who would do anything for the husband she admires save for let him sit and sulk and not realize his potential. Its format is reminiscent of the terrific “A Beautiful Mind,” including a similar scene towards the start when Stephen and Jane gaze hopefully at the stars and their infinite nature. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones deliver heartfelt, transformative performances. Redmayne displays a range of emotion with minimal but deliberate facial expressions and movements as Stephen’s state gradually limits his mobility. Jones exudes a bravery and drive that propels Jane to be the one to prop her husband up and make sure he wants for nothing. The two together are extraordinary, and they help to make this already stirring story even more magnetic and powerful. James Marsh, who won an Oscar for helming the documentary “Man on Wire,” has demonstrated himself to be capable of taking a true story and adapting it with great success into a narrative feature.


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