The Theory of Everything Proves That Acting Alone Can Indeed Carry A Film.

The Theory of Everything.
Director: James Marsh
Writer: Anthony McCarten (screenplay), Jane Hawking (book).
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones.
Playing At: Angelika Film Center (Dallas).

It was only a matter of time before the grandfather of modern popular physics got the standard biopic treatment.

And he certainly deserves it: Stephen Hawking is, as we all know, the brilliant mind behind advancing the ideas of general relativity and relating physics to astronomy, which is, in my case, about as far as I could wrap my head around this film's more science-heavy moments. Thankfully, though, the film doesn't go too deep into the physics side of things and keeps its explanation of those few mentions fairly simple. More at the center of this film is Hawking's time spent as a PhD candidate, during which he was diagnosed with ALS and given only two years to live.

Of course, the audience heads into this film knowing that he beat those odds: Even though he is now is confined to his wheelchair and can no longer speak in the traditional sense, the guy's still alive, blowing our minds with the thoughts of his.

That said, his personal struggles aren't as widely known, and this film sets out to tackle those.

Specifically, The Theory of Everything focuses on the marriage of Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) to Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). Shortly after his ALS diagnosis, the two wed and strive to lead as normal life as possible. But as Hawking's struggles with ALS increase, so too do the the struggles of the marriage, leaving Jane to care for their three children and their household.

Eddie Redmayne, it's worth noting, is absolutely stellar as Hawking. He begins as the charming yet nerdy student with whom Jane falls in love, and we slowly watch him lose his muscle control and his speaking ability. In this role, Redmayne is faced with the almost impossible task of conveying serious emotion through his eyes alone. But he does it well: Eventually, you'll forget that this is an actor; Redmayne becomes completely immersed in the performance.

That said, the real standout here Felicity Jones in her portrayal of Jane Wilde. She really does steal the film. It would have been fascinating to fully see this world from her perspective; as a woman who puts her dreams of a doctorate in literature and any sort of outside life on hold, Jones treads a balance of a devoted wife but a strong-willed woman who knows her limits. As a character, it could have been an easy choice to make Jane whiny or shrewish, but the film is more gracious than that. To its credit, the film very much recognizes that this is just as much her story as it Hawking's.

Together, Redmayne and Jones completely save this film from being utterly ordinary. Perhaps that's a little surprising: Hawking's life, after all, is quite fascinating. There exists a plethora of stories and emotions to share — from being one of the most brilliant minds in the world to his struggles with ALS and even his life after his marriage to Jane — but without these award-level performances, the movie itself would have been totally forgettable. There just isn't much tension in the plot.

Still, there's little doubt that this film is an early contender of the typical Oscar-bait biopic variety. And it's the nuanced performances from the two leads that get it there. After this film, it's certain that Jones and Redmayne have a bright futures ahead of them. The Theory of Everything is worth seeing for that fact alone.

Also, your parents will probably love it.

Grade: B.

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