The Theory of Everything

James Marsh's beautiful but occasionally overwrought The Theory of Everything is the biopic of renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking and his devoted wife, Jane. It is stirring and inspiring and will wrench tears nearly from start to finish. Cinephiles, however, might find Marsh's narrative choices a bit dusty despite having highly engaging dual protagonists played masterfully by Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables) and Felicity Jones. We are introduced to young Hawking (Redmayne) in the '60s as an awkward though brilliant Cambridge doctoral student who takes a fancy to a lovely poetry student (Jones). The scenes of Hawking's courtship of Jane Wilde are utterly charming.  So much so that when ALS finally enters the frame -- presented in an artful passage just 30 minutes into the film -- the audience is as startled and despondent as Hawking. Most of the film, which is based on Jane Hawking's memoir of her life with the physicist, recounts the couple's early struggles to manage Hawking's disease, which his physicians said would kill him within two years. Redmayne's contorted figure as the wheelchair-bound Hawking is pure perfection, as he portrays genius locked inside a crippled body. ALS has not killed Hawking and the audience is left to wonder why or accept that, ironically, sometimes science simply gets it wrong. Highly recommended.


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