The Theory of Everything (2014)


We all know of him, one way or another. Thin, folded into a wheelchair, ‘speaks’ via an automated robotic voice, and is considered one of the most brilliant men of our lifetime. Stephen Hawkings became a household name partly due to his genuis level intelligence, certainly due to his groundbreaking ways to look at our universe and beyond, but also out of novel curiousity of his medical condition. James Marsh’s THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (2014) gives us a closer look at the man behind the genius.

The story begins when Stephen was at Cambridge and his remarkable talents were just becoming known to his professors and friends. And when he first meets Jane. She is charmed by his nerdy sweetness, and his insatiable curiousity about the universe and the origin of time. While his pursuits are scientific, Jane is seeking her academics in language (masters in Spanish). They also differ on spirituality- she attends the Church of England and believes in God. Based on his theories of physics, Steve disagrees.

But the two find deeper connections. Soon after the two meet, Stephen’s illness appears. He has ALS; “the same disease as the baseball player,” as he describes it to a friend. The doctors brace him for his grim prognosis- he has two years to live and his muscles will rapidly deteoriate until even the most basic of functions, from walking to speaking, will be permenently shut down. He tries to push her away initially, and even his parents advise her that she should walk away now because a commitment to him will come at a very heavy price. She declares she is stronger than she looks and commited for the arduous road ahead, even if the destiny will end in two years.

The two marry and a child shortly follows. Somewhere along the way, Stephen has earned his PhD with top recognition for his revolutionary theories.  The path that follows includes new evolutions of theory and more physical challenges for Stephen, and an exhausting lifestyle as a self-sacrificing caretaker for Jane. The couple also manage to have two more children (we learn that certain physical abilities are not quite as hampered as one may think) with the progression of time. Time they managed to outwit, yet were told would come in a much more limited dose. And as strong as the bond of love and commitment these two share, their marriage eventually runs into trouble.

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (2014) was based on Jane Hawking’s novel of their relationship, which was then adapted into a screenplay by Anthony McCarten. It took McCarten three years to convince Jane Hawking to allow him to adapt into a screenplay and ten years to bring it to the big screen.


It’s an interesting bio tale and a sweet love story that’s moderately paced and visually appealing, but what makes it work are the performances. Felicity Jones is convincing and sympathetic as the supportive, hard-working spouse who delves into the very real complexities of their hardships. Although his role on screen is unfortunately very brief, Simon McBurney (as Stephen Hawking’s father, Frank) always delivers and this one is no exception.

But without a doubt, the stand-out here is Eddie Redmayne as Stephen himself. His performance is truly phenonmenal and I’ll declare Oscar worthy. The physical transformations alone are impressive- from weight loss to countless hours crafting the very realistic embodiment of man going through such profound physical deteriorations and challenges. Needless to say Hawking’s emotional torment that Redmayne was able to convey very skillfully. Further more, Redmayne met the real Stephen Hawking only once face-to-face to prepare for this role.

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I’ll admit I have a biased fondness for Eddie Redmayne ever since I first saw his big-smiled, boyish freckled face appear on the big screen [Les Miserables (2012), My Week With Marilyn (2011)…]. But for a film that questions the deeper value of time, I recommend it’s worth a couple hours of your’s if only to see Redmayne’s performance in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING.


8 thoughts on “The Theory of Everything (2014)

    1. Agreed, Alex. I think there’s nothing but great things to come from Eddie Redmayne. According to imbd, in an e-mail to director James Marsh about the portrayal by Eddie Redmayne, Stephen Hawking said there were certain points when he thought he was watching himself.


  1. Fine review! It seems like the performances are what really resonated with most people. I fully expect to see the Academy give Redmayne some nomination love.


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