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Friday, November 7, 2014


Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne star in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING.Liam Daniel / Focus Features
2014, 124 minutes
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and suggestive material

Review by Joshua Handler

Eddie Redmayne has proven himself to be a promising talent over the last few years with lead or significant supporting roles in films like My Week with Marilyn and Les Misérables.  With The Theory of Everything, Redmayne shows that he's an actor who must be taken seriously.  This is an actor's film and the acting is the reason to see this film about the extraordinary life of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.  Theory begins with Hawking as a young student at Cambridge University.  It then shows how, at the age of 21, he was diagnosed with ALS, and because of this disease, he was expected to live two years.  However, through his incredible strength and the dedication of his first wife, Jane, he is still living today, over 50 years later.

As mentioned, Redmayne disappears into his role, giving this otherwise standard biopic a sense of vitality and energy.  Redmayne is heartbreaking, especially during the opening hour.  During this portion, Hawking loses more and more control of his bodily functions, something which Redmayne portrays with an extreme attention to detail.  This performance could very well win him an Oscar.

As Jane, Felicity Jones gives a deeply heartfelt performance.  Ever since Jones' underrated work in 2011's Like Crazy, I've been impressed by her (Jones' work in the underrated The Invisible Woman was also very strong).  So, it's no surprise to me that she shines in this film.  She gives a surprisingly fierce performance, and she and Redmayne have wonderful chemistry.

Another strong point in this film is Benoît Delhomme's magical cinematography.  Delhomme keeps the film grounded in reality, but gives the film an otherworldly sense that makes the film cinematic and lively.  The energy from Delhomme behind the camera matches the actors.

Overall, The Theory of Everything is a solid biopic that will please just about everyone.  But, it simply isn't extraordinary.  Because Theory follows the same beats as most other biopics, it's very hard for me to love it as a whole.  When I watch a movie, I, like every other film critic, ask myself, "Would I pay to go see this movie and why?"  For Theory of Everything, I would pay, if only to witness the stunning performances and cinematography.  (As a side note, I will say that James Marsh does a good job directing - it takes a director of serious talent to elicit performances like those in this film).  I wholeheartedly recommend viewing The Theory of Everything, but wouldn't necessarily recommend seeking it out over other recent releases like Birdman, Whiplash, and next week's Foxcatcher or Rosewater.


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