The Theory of Everything (2014) Movie Review “Strongly Acted but Falls Short of It’s Aspirations”

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All film is a subjective form of art and entertainment.  In that realm of possibility, we are all going to have different opinions on whether a film is good or not.  I came into “The Theory of Everything” quite excited and came out rather disappointed.  “The Theory of Everything” is a technically good film, well shot and lighted but the film itself is rather bland.  Worthy of a lifetime movie, “The Theory of Everything” tries to hit on too many aspects of Stephan Hawking’s life instead of keeping the script focused and while Eddie Redmayne gives an Oscar worthy performance, the rest of the film is pretty generic and forgettable.

“The Theory of Everything” is a look into the early of Stephan Hawking and his relationship with his first wife  Jane.  Soon though a disease begins to affect him.  Learning of the ALS disease that will plague the rest of his life, Jane and Stephan marry and try to keep together throughout Stephan’s accomplishments and health issues that test their relationship time and time again.

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Director James Marsh of “Man on Wire” fame is a competent director.  His look of the picture is at times interesting and tries to reflect the internal character feelings as a visual representation .  That all being said Marsh is more at home in the documentary realm.  Here though there is nothing spectacular about his vision.  Everything here is too mundane and by the numbers.  He comes off like a director that study a number of other  Biopic pictures to try and replicate their success without putting his own stamp on the genre.

Here we have a film though that’s able to feel rushed and dragged out at the same time.  From the very beginning, Marsh and Screenwriter Anthony McCarten quickly established the relationship between Stephan and Jane while also rushing through the beginning stages of his disease.  The whole first half of the movie does little to gain insight into the relationship of Jane and Stephan.  They love each other because….they love each other?   In “A Beautiful Mind”, director Ron Howard spent a considerable amount of time building the love story between John and Alicia Nash.  Once they are together you understand the love between them and why in the narrative that becomes an integral part of John Nash’s life.   In “The Theory of Everything” none of the proper time is given to both Stephan’s relationship with Jane or his disease (something else brilliantly done in “A Beautiful Mind”)

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The second half of the movie slows things down to explore Jane’s semi crush (that later turns to love) with a Church singer named Jonathon.  The movie spends a considerable amount of time with this “love triangle” and it could not be more uninteresting.  The man playing Jonathon (Charlie Cox) does his best Colin Farrell imitation but does little to make an impact.  I don’t mind this being an aspect of the film’s story but spending the amount of time it did, strains past its purpose.

This is not to say “Theory of Everything” is incapable of creating some memorable stand out scenes.  There are some well done scenes of Hawking’s disease taking shape, Jane and Stephan’s heartbreaking final scenes together, and some of the several scenes of humor.  The problem comes this feels more like a collection of good scenes rather than a cohesive collective film.

However the movie’s stand out aspect is Eddie Redmayne as Stephan Hawking.  This is an outstanding performance, very much worthy of an Best Actor nomination.  Redmayne is capable of capturing the subtle nuances and personality of Stephan Hawking.  Stephan Hawking himself claimed, “I felt like he was watching myself.”  This is the film’s biggest strength.  Felicity Jones plays his wife Jane.  The chemistry between the two (Eddie and Jones)  is solid, nothing spectacular but Jones gives a very good performance as Jane.  She hits various different emotional cues as Jane able to come across as caring, uncertain, and certainly naive.

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For many people “The Theory of Everything” works well but for (personally) it plays off more as an inferior version of “A Beautiful Mind” than the Oscar caliber film it’s been so far praised at.  This movie isn’t horrible but it’s still pretty bland, generic and forgettable.  Years from now we will remember and talk about Eddie Redmayne performance more than the film itself.

Final Score

5/10

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