Is it possible for a movie to be so gut-wrenchingly beautiful that it breaks you in the best possible way?
This is my review of The Theory of Everything!
The Theory of Everything is based on the memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking. In the 1960’s Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde meet at Cambridge during a party. They begin an intellect-centered friendship that blossoms into a romance. However all seems lost when Stephen learns he has a motor-neuron disease (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease) at the age of 21. In spite of this, Jane makes the decision to confess her love for him and becomes his wife, vowing to be his staunchest ally in the fight against his disease.
After watching the film, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot use my usual “Hits and Misses” system. This is the first film I have seen that needs to be reviewed on an entirely different standard. The reason for this is everything right with the film is objective and everything wrong with the film is subjective, a matter of personal taste.
The Objective Good
Good Lord, the lighting and cinematography is exceptional! The opening shot of the film is a soft gold color pallate, while the night scenes are a lovely shade of turquoise. There’s a great scene where Stephen is sitting alone, watching TV and the red color pallate expresses his inner turmoil over the diagnosis.
Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar for playing Stephen Hawking and frankly, he earned it. His extraordinary physical performance is heartbreaking, while his vulnerablity and willingness to have other actors carry his body had me sobbing. Eddie Redmayne becomes Stephen, a lover of the sciences. Fluent in physics and mathematical theory, he pursues an understanding of the structure of the universe with every fiber of his being.
Not only does Felicity Jones have the same gentle beauty as Lily James in Cinderella, but she is also as empathetic as Keira Knightly in The Imitation Game. In the Hawking marriage, Stephen is the head and Jane is the heart. Felicity Jones brings Jane to life as an angelic flower with an iron will. She knows what is at stake, but honors her vows by refusing to abandon her ailing husband for her own personal comfort.
If you love the piano and classical music in general, you will want to buy the soundtrack immediately. The musical score here is just as great as The Imitation Game soundtrack. It has an epic vibe, illustrating the marriage of Stephen and Jane as a daring, intellectual adventure.
In fact, if you are a fan of The Imitation Game, you might enjoy this movie, as well. The script is very intimate with Stephen and Jane, giving the impression that the director knows these two people personally and wants you to know and love them as much as he does.
I am going to go out on a limb here and recommend this movie to newlyweds and long-time married couples. The Theory of Everything is the best portrayal of marriage I have ever seen. It neither advocates nor argues against marriage; it only demonstrates the trials and triumphs that marriage entails in an honest, humanistic way.
The Subjective Bad
If you have endured the trauma of watching a family member decline, this movie will be a very difficult experience. The deterioration of Stephen’s body is agonizing. I had to take quite a few walking breaks.
One scene in particular shows Stephen trying to get up a flight of stairs while his toddler son Robert watches. I don’t want to talk about it for too long, otherwise I’ll start crying again. This scene is that painful.
Oddly enough, as the movie nears the third act, I found myself becoming desensitized to Stephen’s collapsing body until he gets pneumonia and ends up needing an operation that will make him unable to speak ever again. My heart was broken in two all over again.
All that being said, to tell you not to watch this movie would be a disservice. Instead, I will advise that you exercise good judgment. Know your limits in terms of what you can handle to see on screen and go from there.
Guys and gals, The Theory of Everything broke me in the most beautiful way. I love it and I hate it all at the same time. With inspired performances, wonderful music and an excellent script, The Theory of Everything is a tragically victorious story of how love really can overcome all obstacles. This is an exceptional film that I never want to see again, but am sure glad that I gave it a shot.
Saint Jude, pray for us.