The Theory Of Everything: An elegant equation

Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in a scene from "The Theory of Everything."   | Photo Credit: Liam Daniel

One of the most inspiring figures of this generation, Stephen Hawking is worthy of a eulogy. Here is a scientist whose mind maps the universe while his body remains immobile in a wheelchair. Here is a man who is bereft of speech, yet there is so much demand for his ideas that his artificial voice is trademarked.

The physical disability and the complexity of his subject limit the possibilities of his life story to be told on the big screen to big numbers, but director James Marsh, along with the revelation of the year Eddie Redmayne, tides over these obvious obstacles to give us a sense of an athletic boy’s noble fight with his destiny. Marsh humanises the genius physicist, who is a geek for many. He is not overtly concerned about the relationship between black holes and the Big Bang theory. Physics forms only the backdrop. What we see in front is the organic chemistry between Hawking and his first love Jane, two strong willed characters who defy destiny, and how the demands of dedication create tender furrows in their relationship.

The Theory of Everything

Genre: Drama
Director: James Marsh
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Maxine Peake
Bottomline: A satisfying experience but apart from Redmayne’s performance the probability of remembering it by the end of the year is not strong.

The good thing is Marsh doesn’t try to blatantly underline the struggle of Hawking with his eroding body because of motor neuron disorder or the sacrifices that Jane made to keep the family going. Be it Hawking’s sense of humour or his physical desire, Marsh discovers depth in simple moments and gestures. A twitch of Redmayne’s eyebrow conveys more than any swelling background score or anxious camera movements could achieve. But what this approach does is that it makes the film a little too low key at times. Add to it Marsh’s keenness to tell the story from Jane’s perspective –– the script is sourced from Jane’s autobiography –– making the equation unusually balanced even when the Hawkings amicably part ways. Hawking’s take on the existence of God in his theory is almost glossed over with generalities on hope and tenacity.

The film hinges on the masterly performances by its lead players. Redmayne’s contortions don’t come across as choreographed as he conveys the resolve of Hawking without making a show of it. Jones proves to be a credible foil as Jane. The rest of the cast are simply fillers to generate awe for the principal characters.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 1:14:44 PM |

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