Friday, November 14, 2014

The Theory of Everything Movie Review

Eddie Redmayne & Felicity Jones (r) star in The Theory of Everything

E = Sad and Depressing

Before I start to pick apart James Marsh's The Theory of Everything, allow me a moment to applaud Eddie Redmayne's incredible physical performance as famed physicist Stephen Hawking: It's truly amazing, although hardly worthy of an Oscar nomination (in my humble opinion.) I realize this goes against the grain (I'm sure most critics will love it) but movies are supposed to be entertaining; and this movie closer resembles a soap opera... one that centers around a genius confined to a wheelchair, and the poor young woman who gives up everything to take care of him. Not exactly Star Wars, is it? Truth be told, it's a bit boring, really sad and probably too smart for its own good. If I want to watch a movie about black holes, I'll stick with Interstellar. So should you.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Starring Eddie Redmayne (Les Misérables) and Felicity Jones (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), this is the extraordinary story of one of the world's greatest living minds, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who falls deeply in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Once a healthy, active young man, Hawking received an earth-shattering diagnosis at 21 years of age. With Jane fighting tirelessly by his side, Stephen embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of - time. Together, they defy impossible odds, breaking new ground in medicine and science, and achieving more than they could ever have dreamed. The film is based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking, and is directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh (Man on Wire.)

What’s Best: Redmayne becomes Hawking, and is a joy to watch early on (before he's diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.) Following Stephen across campus, and in pursuit of Jane (Jones) is interesting, not to mention downright charming at times. Redmayne captures every physical nuance of Hawking with dazzling accuracy; but doesn't say enough to hold one's attention. Still, it's fun to guess what's going on in that big 'ol brain of his: It must be good, because he's always smiling.

Jane, on the other hand proves a lot more interesting to follow, especially when she reaches her "breaking point." Once Stephen's mom suggests she join the church choir, Jane realizes there's more to life than taking care of her sick husband (no matter how smart he is.) When all is said and done, The Theory of Everything becomes more a biopic of Jane's life, than Stephen's; and Jones proves more than capable of handling the extra load.

What’s Not: Imagine spending 10 minutes in a wheel chair, now an hour. Now two (The Theory of Everything clocks in at 123 minutes.) Hardly fun, is it? Next, try to understand what Stephen is saying... without the benefit of subtitles. Good luck. Wait, there's more: Who wants to see Stephen crawl up the stairs? Or better yet, watch the guy that's in love with your wife, give you a bath or play with your kids. Joy. Not.

Best Line: When Stephen's mother encourages Jane to join the church choir, the latter remarks, 'I think that's the most English thing anyone's ever said.'  As for Stephen, he doesn't say much, unless you count his pursuit of 'one simple, elegant equation to explain everything.' Yawn.

Overall: Stephen's life seems like one prolonged struggle, 'I was just trying to figure out the mathematical probability of happiness.' Trouble is, he never seems to answer his own question. His brain is alive and well; but it's almost impossible to convey that to an audience. Don't ask how (no, really... don't) but he and Jane continue to have children, which only adds more work for an already overloaded caregiver/mother/wife. Meanwhile, Stephen just sits there, smiling (and thinking.) Double Yawn. Kudos to Redmayne and Jones, who do their best to hold our attention; but their characters just aren't very interesting. Neither, I'm afraid... is this movie.