Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Theory of Everything - 9 stars out of 10

The Theory of Everything - 9 stars out of 10

From the moment that Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, his story was destined to inspire the world.  This story is so fascinating, so emotional, so inspirational that its transformation into an Oscar-winning film was inevitable.  The script, adapted from Jane Hawking’s memoir that gives a vivid portrait of her husband’s unlikely perseverance, is heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time.  While I don’t agree with Hawking’s religious views, I can still appreciate his unlikely journey.  The story has many facets that range from Hawking’s struggle with his disease to his world-changing physics theories and the incredible dedication of his wife.  The script is supplemented by Oscar-nominated performances by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.  Redmayne is incredible in this performance that deserves to be mentioned alongside Daniel Day Lewis in “My Left Foot” and Robert DeNiro in “Awakenings.”  At one point, I had to lean over to my wife and remind her that Redmayne could stand up and walk around if he wanted.  He is so convincing that you would believe that he was really bound to his wheelchair.  The contortion of his hands, his distorted walking style, and the limited movement of his face require a finesse that few actors achieve.  He will likely lose the Oscar to Michael Keaton for “Birdman,” but it doesn’t take a theoretical physicist to realize that Redmayne’s portrayal of the debilitative progression of ALS will last through the ages.  Felicity Jones matches the physical acting of Redmayne with the emotional content of her character.  She shows an equally drastic transformation from the enchanting young college student to the frustrated caretaker of her husband as she denies her love for another man in order to remain dedicated to her often distant husband.  She doesn’t stand a chance again Julianne Moore for the Oscar, but I hope that this notoriety paves the way for many more appearances in emotional roles.  David Thewlis also manages to be very memorable in such a small role, not allowing Stephen’s changing physical state to alter his perception.  The score by Jóhann Jóhannsson feels very traditional.  There isn’t anything groundbreaking about it as it explores the sheer beauty of the piano, harp, and strings.  It suits the images on the screen so well that I hardly noticed it over the course of movie and didn’t fully appreciate it until revisiting it afterwards.  “The Theory of Everything” wasn’t my favorite film of the year, but it lies among those films that bring history to life and allow us to feel as if we lived through the hardships alongside of the characters.

[Pictured: Redmayne and Jones are both deserving of Oscars]

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