Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Now on Amazon Prime: The Theory of Everything (2014)

The Theory of Everything (2014) - Directed by James Marsh; Written by Anthony McCarten; Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Tom Prior, David Thewlis, Emily Watson.

By Kenny Howell

Eddie Redmayne brought home Oscar gold for this portrayal of Stephen Hawking and his relationship with his first wife Jane.

We meet Hawking as a young man just making his mark at Cambridge when he meets Jane (Jones). They fall in love, but Hawking would soon after get the ALS diagnosis that would leave him nearly motionless for the rest of his life. Jane makes a promise to Hawking to be there for him as his disease progresses, which was expected to kill him within two years. However, Hawking is anomaly of the disease, still alive today, and Jane cares for him as his scientific theories gain worldwide fame, and he becomes one of the greatest scientific thinkers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The movie is a vehicle for the actors, and both leads earned well-deserved Oscar nominations. They are very different performances as Redmayne is a mostly physicality, as he must chart the diminishing use of Hawking's body. Redmayne's Oscar win was criticized by some for that reason, because it was more about physicality than true emotions, but I think that is just being a contrarian for contrarian sake. Redmayne is able to get those emotions on screen without the use of much of his body or face, and while I don't think it is the best performance of the year, it is one of the best.

Jones is the emotional core, which she has been several times in her young career. It is obvious that it is hard for Jane to keep by Hawking's side, especially when the two fall out of love over the years. But she is loyal, and they have made a family together so she tries to make it work in a way that works for them.

The movie loses quite a bit toward the end, as it goes heavy with sentimentality. This is obviously a movie made to win awards, which it did, but it is pretty blatant how hard it is trying near the end. A scene where Jane reconnects with a past love interest is laughably saccharine, but the work of Redmayne and Jones help cover up the ploy for notoriety.

The Theory of Everything is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Rating: ***

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