The Theory of Everything (2014)

For the vast majority of its runtime, “The Theory of Everything” is a very conventional biopic…but it’s a well-executed one, with great performances and an enjoyable atmosphere and direction, and I found myelf quite happy with it in the theatre.

Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones garnered a lot of acclaim for their performances, and they both absolutely deserved it. Jones does tremendous work with a difficult emotional role, but Redmayne’s embodiment of Hawking’s physicality is breathtaking. The real triumph is how strongly he manages to emote from underneath it all. I feel like Charlie Cox gets overlooked because of the strength of the two leads, but he was great as well, imbuing Jonathan with a very natural sense of warmth and love.

Something that really stood out to me was the excellent score by Jóhann Jóhannsson. It was notable in how much it evolved with the emotional journey of the characters, and its distinctive tone in general. While I do enjoy atmospheric soundtracks, it’s nice to hear a score like this nice and prominent in the sound mix.

The entire film (well, most of it at least) is bathed in this lovely warm glow, and has a wonderfully vibrant colour scheme, which I really loved. It really is the script that holds the film back – the cast is brilliant, the visuals and music are stellar, it’s just that typical biopic structure that holds it back. The worst thing is that the ending of the film features a sequence actually thematically connected to Hawking’s work, with time breaking down in Hawking’s sort of vision. If the film had explored with time and other concepts and structures related to Hawking’s theories, I think the film could have been really creative and much more thematically coherent, but as it stands, all we saw was a small suggestion at what innovation could have been.

“The Theory of Everything” is a well-crafted film bolstered by its two excellent leads, a great score, and a moving ending, but ultimately it really could have been much better.

I give it three theses, and a pencil.

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