'The Theory of Everything'
Director: James Marsh
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in 'The Theory of Everything'
'The Theory of Everything' desperately wants to be loved and adored. At places it tries too hard, at others it tries too little. The lack of balance is carried out throughout the film, and by the time you exit the theater you'll be wondering whom the movie was for.
The answer is pretty evident though – this movie was made for one singular mission – to impress the Academy voters, who generally fall for manipulative, uninspiring love stories featuring extraordinary characters in extraordinary circumstances.
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in this biopic, named after one of his famous books. There's not much to adore in this film, but if there's one thing that really stands out, it's Redmayne's performance. He's quite disturbingly close to Hawking's persona, it almost feels like he was born to play this role. Whether you're aware of Hawking's life story or not, you'll be pretty much bowled over by Redmayne's presence in the film. When he stumbles to the ground after his legs paralyze, you'll want to feel your own toes to reassure yourself of your own motor functions.
The thing is, when you remove Redmayne from the equation there is literally nothing in the film to invest your brain cells into. That's mostly because of the storytelling decisions - the life story biopic of one of the greatest scientists of all time has been reduced to a tearjerking love story between him and his wife. The wife, played by Felicity Jones in her Oscar nominated performance, is exactly what you expect her to be – a kind, loving person who is burdened by her husband's disability but never gives up on hope. It's the quintessential character first kickstarted by Jennifer Connelly in 'A Beautiful Mind', and clearly the formula seems to work for the average Joe.
The conflicts within the film are pedestrian at best, and the way they're handled go dangerously close to Nicholas Sparks territory. For a film named 'The theory of Everything' the film tells nothing concrete about the genius of Stephen Hawking. Such a mind can only be as complicated as it is brilliant, and the film is sadly as simplistic as they come. The only bright spark in the film is the music by Johan Johansson, and although James Marsh showed tremendous hold of emotion and subject in his previous movies 'Man on wire' and 'Project Nim', the spark is sorely missed this time around.