The Theory of Everything Review
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Even if you don’t pay much attention to the study of science—if, perhaps, you dreaded going to your high school physics class as much as I did—there’s still a pretty good chance that you’re at least slightly familiar with physicist Stephen Hawking. But while Hawking is highly respected in the world of physics, there’s so much more to him than just scientific theories—and it’s the personal side of his story that’s the focus of director James Marsh’s stunning biopic, The Theory of Everything.

Adapted from Jane Hawking’s memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, The Theory of Everything explores the remarkable story of the famed scientist—his life, his love, his scientific breakthroughs, and his decades-long battle against a debilitating disease.

Eddie Redmayne stars as Hawking, who was a student at Cambridge, struggling to choose a topic for his doctoral thesis, when he was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease and given just two years to live. Despite the grim diagnosis, Jane (Felicity Jones) refused to give up on him. And as he fought the disease while working on his thesis, she remained by his side.

You don’t have to be a cosmologist to appreciate The Theory of Everything—because (fortunately) it doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail, trying to explain the mathematical equations and scientific theories behind Hawking’s work. After all, that’s not the point of the film. It isn’t really about Hawking’s work or his accomplishments or his disease—though all of those things do play a part in the story. Instead, it’s about his relationship with Jane—about this amazing woman who refused to let go, who raised a family and cared for the man she loved long after most others would have given up. As Stephen’s life defied the odds, so did Jane’s dedication to him. And Marsh’s artistic vision for the film pairs perfectly with its drama and romance, using light and color to capture the story’s whirlwind of emotions.

Still, the inspiring love story pales in comparison to Redmayne’s unforgettable performance. Despite the insurmountable challenges that the young actor faced in portraying the scientist over 50 years—and through various stages of the devastating illness—he is nothing short of brilliant. A role like this one can make or break a movie. Underplay it, and you lessen the impact; overplay it, and it can be almost laughable. But Redmayne gives the kind of performance that makes you forget that it’s just a performance. He captures every emotion, every step of the process, every triumph and setback. And he does it all in a way that’s alternately heartbreaking, inspiring, and, most of all, truly spectacular.

The story itself may not be especially tense or thrilling, but The Theory of Everything is beautifully filmed and skillfully acted. And Redmayne’s Oscar-worthy performance alone makes it a spellbinding film.

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