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A Brief Overview Of Time And The Theory Of Everything

Updated on April 4, 2015

People have a tendency to say that opposites attract. The love between Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde would certainly be seen as an example of that. Their years together serve as the subject of the movie The Theory Of Everything. Eddie Redmayne stars as Hawking, a doctoral student at Cambridge in 1963. Eddie Redmayne stars as the student whose theories in physics have been influential in the scientific field. More studious than sociable, he needs the persuasion of a fellow doctoral student to go to a dance. He goes, and while he doesn't dance, he meets Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), an undergraduate poetry student who finds herself drawn to the one man who's not like the others. They strike up a friendship, even though they don't share a belief system. Each, though, has a belief in exploring things that demand personal interpretation.

As Hawking pursues his studies on the campus, he collapses and loses consciousness. In the hospital, he receives the diagnosis that he has the motor neuron disease known as ALS, and has two years to live. Upon his release from the hospital, Stephen keeps to himself at school until Jane approaches him and challenges him to get back to his reason for being there. He decides on his doctoral thesis, which looks at the origins of the universe. While still ambulatory, he and Jane marry, in spite of concerns from both families. While Stephen gets his degree and becomes a father, Jane feels the strain of all of her responsibilities as her husband grows physically weaker. Her mother advises her to get back to some activity in the Church Of England, where she has the opportunity to sing in the local church's choir. There, she meets choir director Jonathan Jones (Charlie Cox), who not only takes her into the choir, but becomes a close friend and aide to the couple. That relationship becomes suspect to some. Jonathan tries to stay, but ultimately cannot withstand the suspicions. A new strain comes when Elaine Mason (Maxine Peake) becomes a therapy aide who helps the now-mute Stephen to communicate.

The Theory Of Everything, which is based on Jane Wilde's memoir about her life with Stephen, is a pleasing, but ordinary, look at a man whose views on the universe have become famous worldwide. Viewers get a glimpse of a man who has written about a big bang and black holes and become world renowned for his theories. The facts of his life, especially his physical limitations, are common knowledge. However, director James Marsh, whose credits include the documentary Man On Wire and the cult film Wisconsin Death Trip, makes a very conventional film about this fascinating man. Still, Marsh manages to capture a more private side to a man and a wife who came to a respect of the other's pursuits, and how two very distinct people maintained a life together in spite of personal and professional difficulties. Marsh, though, plays very safely here.

Redmayne and Jones play very engaging leads as Stephen and Jane. Remayne captures a man who lives fully, even though his doctors hand him a death sentence. Even as he loses his physical abilities, he still can say so much with a look. In his work, he challenges the vey theory that earned him a PhD. Jones shows devotion and resolve as Jane, who becomes an academic in her own right. Her strong presence helps her through the years of caretaking, and helps her to make a difficult decision about Stephen as his illness once has him near death. I also liked Cox as the well-meaning Jonathan, as well as the small appearances by Emily Watson as Jane's mother and Simon McBurney as Stephen's father.

In one scene, Hawking listens to academic skeptics following a lecture, but one of them was not a Soviet colleague, whose scientific community often dismissed the theories and discoveries of the western world. Hawking's most famous book, A Brief History Of Time, has sold millions of copies. The Theory Of Everything gives viewers a look at the public and private sides of the Hawking family, but the movie shows itself to be a standard biopic. It entertains, but never delivers any exceptional moment about a man whose theories make many wonder about the beginning and the vastness of the universe. Even Professor Hawking couldn't devise a theory that would explain how this film failed to have any sort of big bang.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give The Theory Of Everything. A biopic that remains eatrhbound.


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