Star Rating:

The Theory Of Everything

Actors: David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Felicity Jones

Release Date: Saturday 30th November 2013

Genre(s): Biopic

Running time: 123 minutes

Cambridge, 1963 and brilliant student Stephen Hawking (Redmayne) catches the eye of Jane (Jones) at a party. The burgeoning romance is threatened when Hawking is diagnosed with motor neuron disease and is given two years to live; the doctor explaining what’s in store: "Your brain won’t change, your thoughts won’t be affected… it’s just that no one will know what they are." His attempts to distance himself from Jane prove unsuccessful as she proves to be made of sturdier stuff…

In adapting Jane Hawking’s book, writer Anthony McCarten, whose Death of a Superhero too was an exploration of a romance under strained circumstances, ensures The Theory of Everything is less about Hawking’s growing status in scientific circles and journey towards the publication of A Brief History of Time. The emphasis here is on the love story. The introduction of the Equalizer, which enables Hawking to communicate without an interpreter, isn’t the big scene one would expect either. We’re wowed by the developments in the marriage – an introduction of a ménage-a-trois with friend (Charlie Cox) – than Hawking’s breakthrough theories on black holes.

Looking like the quintessential English fop - fringe, glasses, toothy smile, terribly polite – Redmayne works hard to work the charm established in those early scenes when Hawking bounces about Cambridge and put all that into his eyes and smile and mumbles when he’s twisted into an uncomfortable pose later. Unlike Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, his speech is difficult to understand at times, however, with Jones the welcome interpreter.

And this is as much her film as it is his. As Redmayne contorts and sweats, Jones is the figure of restrained subtlety as the role of wife, mother and caregiver slowly overwhelms her; her struggle to keep feelings for Cox’s young widower in check is what the emotional heft of Theory’s… second half is based on and Jones carries it well on her slender shoulders.

It can be far too nice for its own good. There are tears but no screams, no one throws a cup in frustration, Hawking doesn’t curse the heavens for the rotten cards he’s dealt. It’s so agreeable in fact that Hawking’s scientific outlook hardly rubs up against Jane’s more spiritual bent.

An engaging exploration of a marriage under the cosh.