The Theory of Everything is an elegantly crafted film directed with great skill by James Marsh and some of the year’s strongest leading performances in Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. The strength of the film, like any good biography, lies in the beauty of the story and the translation of real life events.
James Marsh, primarily a director of documentaries, does a stellar job at giving The Theory of Everything life, as opposed to the bland portrait of history found in some films or documentaries. The film’s story spans several decades with ease, but never gets caught up in the historical events, and primarily focuses on the relationship between characters. It does a great job at bringing the larger than life historical figure of Stephen Hawking down to a relatable character that experiences the joys of life in many ways. It’s as much a story about a disability as it is a story about life and love in general.
It’s also respectable how the film can tell a poignant love story without the clichés of a Hollywood film. The film does a very good job at blending this love story with the events involving Stephen Hawking’s theories. The theories and scientific elements of the film are explained in a way that is relatable to the average audience member, as are the scenes explaining the complications of his disease. The scenes involving the disease are sometimes difficult to watch but are consistently inspiring. It’s a very simple theme of hope, but it’s done with a relevance and beauty that makes the film consistently great.
Now that award season is in full effect, there will definitely be buzz around the performances by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. The most admirable aspect about these performances is how understated they are. It could be very easy to make theses iconic roles overblown and melodramatic, but it’s much more impressive and moving to see these people portrayed as real people with real life struggles and problems. The chemistry between these actors is consistently wondrous, and each should be considered for Academy Award nominations.
There is also a strong supporting cast. Charlie Cox, a relative unknown is great in this film, and has unfortunately not received his due credit for his excellent performance as a helpful friend drawn into the family drama. David Thewlis, who plays Hawking’s mentor, is given a potentially throwaway role but does an excellent job as a friend determined to reach Hawking’s potential. Harry Lloyd is also strong as a loyal friend, and brings a lot of hear and humor into the story.
James Marsh’s film is expertly edited. While the 123-minute runtime is a tad to long with a slightly dragging second act, it does a great job showing a gradual and beautiful story. Benoit Delhomme, the film’s cinematographer, gives the film a beautiful feel with several brilliant long and tracking shots; he provides one of the year’s best-shot films. Johaan Johannsson composes a beautiful score that like most of the film is understated, but when present works brilliantly and adds to some of the film’s most inspirational moments.
The Theory of Everything is one of the best films of the year; a beautifully crafted success story that escapes Hollywood melodrama and cynicism and remains an honest portrayal of a real life story. While many films considered “award season” contenders might not relate to the average audience member, The Theory of Everything is a universal story of hope that anyone can empathize and relate to. Grade: A