Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Theory of Everything

Last night I saw The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

Most people have heard of Stephen Hawking's famous book A Brief History of Time, but perhaps less know of his personal struggles with ALS.

Diagnosed at age 21, Hawking (Redmayne), refused to accept the death sentence delivered to him (two years) and decided to accelerate his study of scientific theories while he battled the unimaginable physical hurdle of his body failing him day after day.

Of course, as he is still living today, we know that he triumphed, but there were a lot of things that propelled him to success along the way; not least of which was his first wife Jane (Jones), who married him after she learned of his ailment, bore his three children and nursed him day-by-day as his condition got progressively worse.

This film (based on a book written by Jane), is just as much a story about her as it is the famous scientist.

Basically, we see their life beginning when they meet at college and ending just a few years ago, with a satisfying post script explaining their present day existences. Everything in between is like any other family: uplifting, gut-wrenching, confusing, amazing and joyous. It's life.

That's not to say that it's normal—of course marrying someone who is 'supposed' to die in two years is admirable, but hanging on for the long haul is the behavior of a saint, for sure.

Both lead actors master their parts here in an almost eerie authenticity. Jones wears the pain of her situation not in her words, but in her eyes, and a lesser actress may not have pulled it off quite so flawlessly. Redmayne was so chill-inducing accurate (and physically similar) that Hawking himself thought at one point he was watching old footage of his life. There can be no greater endorsement, right?

Although the story is scripted well, and there are no points of boredom for the audience to endure, the real reason to see this sure-to-be-Oscar-contending film is the performances.

Acting doesn't get any better than this.


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