No small task.
Genius stuff, really.
But don’t let that scare you off of The Theory of Everything. Because, while scientific exploration and maximum intellectual curiosity may be at the black hole of any story about the celebrated Hawking, this film is about something far more accessible…and far more human.
Director James Marsh, Oscar winner for 2008 Best Documentary Man on Wire, doesn’t try to expound too much on Hawking’s brilliant brain power, choosing instead to anchor his script’s narrative (based on Jane Hawking’s book Traveling to Infinity: My life with Stephen) on a simple premise stated in the very first piece of dialogue delivered in the film:
“Is sex the answer to all of science?” Hawking’s pal, Brian (Harry Lloyd), asks him as they slide in to a Cambridge pub, where he will ultimately meet his future wife, Jane (wonderfully played by Felicity Jones).
This seemingly playful quip thrown out casually in the film’s open is neatly bookended by the final piece of dialogue delivered in the film. Hawking pulls his now ex-wife, Jane, in close as their three children approach and says with complete awe, the kind of awe he earlier reserved for the mysteries of the cosmos:
“Look at what we created.”
And there it is.
The love of humanity at the core of the cosmos – endowed by our creator.
Eddie Redmayne is excellent. Comparisons to Daniel Day-Lewis’ Oscar-winning My Left Foot are inevitable, but the temperament of the work (and the real life subjects) are polar opposites.
Hawking, as portrayed by Redmayne and guided, of course, by director Marsh, is an extremely patient and tolerant man. A man whose post-ALS emotional examination of his own capacity to love and be loved steered him toward a better understanding of things he had otherwise deemed purely scientific.
Redmayne, whom I first noticed in Robert DeNiro’s vastly underrated The Good Shepherd, is sure to be nominated for an Oscar for this work. I still think this will be Michael Keaton’s year…but an alternative theory may prevail.