Director: James Marsh
Writer: Anthony McCarten
Cinematographer: Benoit Delhomme
by Susan Bartley
I was disappointed when Michael Keaton lost out on the Best Actor Oscar to Eddie Redmayne. I knew about a half dozen people who saw The Theory of Everything by the time the Oscars arrived, and none of them really had all that much to say about it. I put on the film September 29th, right before Scary Movie Month began, got bored within the first half hour and finished it up in November. It’s not a terrible movie. It’s just not that great and I’ll probably never watch it again. Eddie Redmayne does a phenomenal job, but it's a hackneyed bio-pic structure that has drifted beyond boredom and reached banality.
It's easiest to compare the story to My Left Foot, except while MLF contains rich characters beyond the central figure - the lover, the mom, the dad, the siblings, etc. - The Theory of Everything focuses on an amazing man, Stephen Hawking, with a mildly interesting and strong/smart/passionate woman, Jane Hawking (Felicity Jones), and then starts heading toward exponential downfall as we move on from there. We don’t meet his children, I have no idea which parent were which, and the most fascinating part of Stephen Hawking’s life - that is, his work - is left for quick montages and facile explanations (it even had one of those long past tropey montages of Stephen writing equations on a blackboard with chalk pieces flying everywhere. What was he writing? I’m not entirely sure, but it has do with his ::drum roll:: Theory of Everything!
Of course I appreciate that Stephen Hawking approved of the film. Eddie Redmayne really does embody the man, all the way down to the most minute lip and finger motions. I appreciate that we get to see the relationship trouble he and his wife had. But remember that small book “A Brief History of Time”, which is regarded as one of the greatest works of science ever made, exploring the theory behind time, space, and black goals, inspiring an entire generation to become astrophysicists? Good, because this film hardly mentions that at all, except for a moment when Jane is excited he mentioned the word "God" while writing it.
By the time the film ended, I felt as though my understand of Stephen advanced about 1% more. I was waiting for those great scenes and brilliant moments of scientific insight and they never arrived. It’s a film where you know the whole plot within the first few minutes - ambitious guy meets girl, guy deals with insurmountable obstacle, girl and guy fight, all works out in the end. I understand that this was about the man and woman behind the theories. I just don’t think it was all that interesting. Perhaps if the film was made ten years prior in the golden 00s age of bio-pics. To me, it felt like it came much too late and offered little progress - which seems antithetical to who Hawking is. Along with his millions of fans, I'm sure I'm not the only one who was disappointed.
BELOW: To relieve your disappointment, here's Hawking talking about Artificial Intelligence
Thoughts on films, old and new
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