I’ll start by admitting that I haven’t actually watched most of the movies that are in contention for the Academy awards, I stopped paying attention to them a few years ago because the awards were more about campaigning than which was the best film or who gave the best performance. This year we still have our typical Oscar bait films that we’ll no doubt be hearing about until early next year, but we do have films that deserve it this year, films that we’ll still remember in years to come. Of course we have the excellent Boyhood which will win best picture if there is any justice in the world, and last night I watched The Theory of Everything which I can confirm deserves all the buzz that it has been getting.
The Theory of Everything is based on the memoirs of Stephen Hawkings first wife Jane which immediately set it apart from other biopics that we see of him. Film and television usually explore more of his professional life and how he has advanced science, but The Theory of Everything focuses primarily on his personal life. The Theory of Everything chronicles the relationship between Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and Jane Wilde Hawking (Felicity Jones) and is a beautiful but harshly honest romantic drama. The film begins in the pairs University days at Cambridge, where their eyes meet across a crowded room (yes, I’m being serious) and they hit it off immediately, and eventually embark on a relationship. The chemistry between Redmayne and Jones is wonderful, and although I already knew the outcome of their story it was hard not to get invested in them. From the film we see that the beginning of their relationship is also when symptoms of his ALS reared their ugly head but it wasn’t enough to stop their love from growing. The pair marry and have children to have some semblance of a normal life but Stephens condition and his success in his professional life take their toll and we also witness the breakdown of their once solid union.
I mentioned before that Boyhood should most definitely win for best picture, and The Theory of Everything possesses what should be our best actor and actress. Some films are directors films, some films are cinematographers films, this film is an actors film and the leads excel tremendously. Before this I’d never really paid too much attention to Redmayne, but now I believe he should be a dream choice of actor for any director. We get to see Stephen at the beginning of his disease and when it slowly paralyses him, he is confined to a wheelchair and Redmayne was compelling to watch in the role. Even when he is bound to wheelchair and physically unable to do much Redmayne still managed the role wonderfully, we see both pain and joy in his eyes and the way Redmayne manages to transform so much in the space of two hours is astonishing.
Jones was a perfect female lead opposite Redmayne, the film was almost entirely told from her point of view and would have failed with a lesser actress. Redmayne transformed physically but we got to see Jones as Jane mature and evolve emotionally, she started off as a girl who believed love would conquer all and resigned herself to a life not many of us would be able to. We got to witness her break down emotionally due to the toll of Hawkings condition, still in love with him but unable to handle it, yet too afraid to leave. I remember first watching Felicity Jones when I was a child on The Worst Witch and I never believed that I’d be watching her 16 years later and enthralled by her captivating performance as Jane. The Academy awards should just give them their gongs now, I feel like they have just turned in the performance of their careers even though they are barely in their 30s, I look forward to seeing a lot of them in the future.
The film is an actors field day, but the direction and cinematography is almost perfect, although at times it feels a little inorganic. The costume and make up were marvellous throughout the film, it was set during three different decades yet it felt seamless and I never once found fault in it (and I always like to find some faults). I was bewitched from start to finish and hope that it earns all the awards it deserves.