Going to watch this film after it’s already been Oscar-nominated and Eddie Redmayne’s picked up the Golden Globe sets expectations pretty high. But of course The Theory of Everything is based on the true story of real people, Stephen and Jane Hawking, so there were people with even huger expectations than the normal film-going public.
Nevertheless, it is clear to see why The Theory of Everything has taken both the awards world and the hearts of ordinary people by storm. I have barely heard a bad word said about it and I absolutely see why.
I have been a fan of Eddie Redmayne ever since his teary appearance in Les Miserables in 2012 and I’m so happy he had the opportunity to show the world what he can do in this film. The film would not be nearly as strong as it is without Eddie’s total transformation from an able-bodied if strange scientist to a wheelchair-bound and immobile man with the same brilliant mind. His eyes do a tremendous amount of work and the amount of preparation and work he put into creating this performance is clear. He deserves every accolade that comes his way.
Of course, the central peg of the film is Stephen’s relationship with Jane, the church-going arts student, and Felicity Jones and her endearing lopsided smile make that bond come through the screen intensely and beautifully. She starts off innocently and becomes worn down by life as a carer and a mother, understandably, but the love between them is always clear in some form.
My greatest indicator of the emotions communicated by Redmayne and Jones is that my boyfriend cried. After the enfeebled scientist has a tracheostomy and his wife shows him the coloured alphabet technique for communication, he mouths ‘I love you’, encapsulating their relationship and its frustrations with just a look. And my companion cried, which is certainly not an everyday occurrence.
This emotion is sustained throughout with a beautiful piano score from Johann Johannsson which, also unusually, I listened to as soon as I got home. It sets the tone of each scene perfectly, with a contrast between busy pieces and more sustained music as Stephen became less mobile, and it does exactly what film music should; augment the story being shown on screen without being obtrusive.
There are other great things about this film I could mention, from the wonderful supporting actors to the beautiful cinematography, but that is enough gushing. Although it is a film about love rather than science, which may disappoint many Stephen Hawking fans, it is undeniably excellent in its genre and revolves around two truly special performances.