James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything is an incredible tearjerker, being a very human depiction of love in the face of such a tragic difficulty. The film, based on Jane Hawking’s novel, Traveling Through Infinity, tells the true story of the Hawkings’ difficult relationship while dealing with the destructive struggles wrought by ALS.
Eddie Redmayne physically contorts his body to play Stephen Hawking, who is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life after ALS severely weakens his muscles. Redmayne painfully rasps out words and struggles to give his wife a brief loving glance. Redmayne excels at his role, flawlessly playing Stephen — even to the extent that, according to the IMDB trivia page, Stephen said there were certain points when he thought he was watching himself while watching the film.
The movie rotates more around Jane as the main character, as it was based on her novel. The film put Stephen’s contributions to science and the modern world second to the love story between the couple. Marsh purposely aimed to showcase the little-known romance rather than the more famous, well-known story of Stephen’s genius, a directorial choice that I appreciate.
Some parts of the movie briefly disrupt the immersion into the story. Perhaps it was intentional, but the chemistry between Felicity Jones’s character of Jane and Redmayne’s character of Stephen felt a bit acted. The film did an incredible job by often portraying Jones’s character in an empathetic light, although sometimes it was too obvious that they were trying to make the audience relate to her. The depiction of characters was still engaging and full of depth and dimension.
The score built great suspense and was a huge, fluid part of the overall emotion and tone of the film. At some points the film had no dialogue and let the music and visuals define the atmosphere, and was effective in doing so. The pacing and the soundtrack fit well with each other, especially in the first moments when Stephen Hawking realizes there is something wrong with his body.
The ending of the movie is creative and innovatively integrates Stephen’s scientific contributions. The movie demonstrates incredible depth and genuine emotion in a story that shows that love is difficult but still timeless.