Theory of Everything, The (2014)

Director:  James Marsh
Writers:  Anthony McCarten (screenplay), Jane Hawking (book)
Stars:  Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, David Thewlis

Running Time: 123 mins.

The Theory of Everything explores the loving relationship between world renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane as his health declines due to the devastating effects of a neuro motor disease (Lou Gherig’s disease).  

Eddie Redmayne transforms from able bodied college student to a twisted wheel chair bound person who can’t speak so completely that I felt as if I weren’t watching an actor at all but rather the real man Hawking himself.  

The film begins with Hawking in Cambridge studying and theorizing and eventually showing the world his brilliance as he woos Jane who marries him just after he is diagnosed with the devastating disease and given a mere two years to live.  He was 21 at the time.

Hawking defied those odds as is still alive today, now aged 72.  

Redmayne’s resemblance to Hawking is astonishing.  His performance is nothing less.  

At its heart, this is a beautiful and yet painful love story.  The rapport between Redmayne and Felicity Jones is a delicate and lovely thing to watch. David Thewlis, always good, plays Hawking’s Cambridge professor and lifelong friend and Charlie Cox is wonderful as Jonathan, the man who befriends the Hawking family.

I had the opportunity to hear Eddie Redmayne discuss the role after a special screening of the film and he described working with a “choreographer”, his term, and a disease specialist to understand and tailor the physical constraints needed to fully portray this character based on the progression of the disease.  His hard work paid off.   There was one painful to watch scene with him on a staircase where I was nearly compelled to pop out of my theater seat to help him.  

Lotta says:  Redmayne’s is an Oscar performance not just because he lost weight and sat in a wheelchair but because his emotional life was so complete and present in every second of every scene.