For Reel

The Theory of Everything (2014)
November 29, 2014, 3:15 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: James Marsh
3.5 Stars
The Theory of EverythingStephen Hawking is both a renowned theoretical physicist and a cultural icon, but The Theory of Everything makes a decision to focus on the latter. Science takes a backseat to the fascination with Hawking the man–the gut-level preoccupation with the seeming juxtaposition of a genius brain inside of a frail, deteriorated body. When the film answers questions regarding his functioning penis or, in a misguided dream sequence, visually depicts Hawking’s wish to get up and retrieve a pen for a young student, it indulges a freak show attraction and creates a spectacle out of a disability. But where director James Marsh is decidedly successful is in mining the melodrama of the story in a classical Hollywood sense. Hawking’s (Eddie Redmayne) relationship with his wife, Jane (Felicity Jones), is ignited early on in a selfless, loving blaze… only, like many relationships, its moment passes and the two begin to understand their desire to be apart from each other. While Hawking is finding international acclaim in his biographical timeline, Marsh is more interested in showing Jane’s reserve and her repressed desire to fulfill a romantic relationship with a choirmaster (Charlie Cox). If this isn’t a terrific movie about a theoretical physicist with a disability (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a good example of a film about both a disabled person’s relationship with his disability and with his life work), it’s a respectably melancholic romantic drama about self-sacrifice and evolving desires.

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