The incredible story of Jane and Stephen Hawking.
Eddie Redmayne deservedly picked up awards galore, including a Bafta, an Oscar and a Golden Globe, for his role as astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in stirring biopic The Theory of Everything. But his co-star Felicity Jones warrants equal praise for her fiercely tender portrayal of Jane Wilde, the arts student who became Hawking’s first wife and whose tenacity and will arguably kept him alive in the years after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21 and given just two years to live.
Redmayne’s astonishing physical transformation to depict the ravages of the disease is genuinely remarkable. To prepare for the role, he rigorously trained his body as a dancer would, but learning to shorten his muscles rather than lengthen them, so that he could hold himself in the contorted positions required to portray the progressively disabled Hawking.
It’s a very striking technical feat. But the subtler emotional transformations Redmayne and Jones display over the course of their characters’ embattled marriage are equally impressive.
By contrast, the work behind the camera is solid rather than spectacular, with director James Marsh, maker of the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire, doing a fine job of recreating the look and feel of 1960s, 70s and 80s Cambridge, while Anthony McCarten’s script – based on Jane’s memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen – deftly conveys Hawking’s scientific breakthroughs without tangling the viewer in equations.
The film’s prime focus, however, is appropriately on the human story, making The Theory of Everything less about the workings of the universe than the workings of a remarkable marriage.
Certificate 12. Runtime 123 mins. Director James Marsh.
The Theory of Everything is released on DVD & Blu-ray by Universal Pictures UK.