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Movie review: The Theory of Everything

Roslyn Hull

In 1963, as a cosmology student at Cambridge, Stephen Hawking is making great strides and is determined to find a “simple, eloquent explanation” for the universe. His own world opens up when he falls in love with an arts major, fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. But, at 21 years of age, this healthy, active young man receives an earth-shattering diagnosis: motor neuron disease will attack his limbs and his abilities, leaving him with limited speech and movement, and will take his life within two years.” Official site

Forget Nicolas Sparks.

Ignore Christian Grey.

THIS is my choice for a date movie for Valentines Day.

It is, quite simply, wonderful.

Based on Jane Hawking’s own account of her life with Stephen it is a good story that is well told with very natural but very, very talented actors in all the major roles, especially Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones and Charlie Cox. Although a Who’s Who of excellent British character actors breathes life into every part, however brief.

Director James Marsh (Man on a Wire) would not seem a logical choice for a story like this but … Man on a Wire is exhilarating—and so is this; it is an earthy, intimate look at an extraordinary individual who does amazing things—and so is this. Where they differ is that, although a real story, Theory is not a documentary. However, the story is so involving I would have willingly watched it as a work of fiction and cheered the author.

The story is the thing. I know the Media has tried to generate some angst between Hawking’s first and second wives but after seeing this film I really think an attempt has been made, in a delicate British way, to face up to every character’s strengths and shortcomings and treat everyone with respect. Gwynnie’s conscious uncoupling from Chris is tawdry compared to how this couple has dealt with what life threw at them.

Please, please, please do not dismiss this as a disease-of-the-month film. What takes place happens to a man with a life-threatening condition—it is not about that condition, it is about him, his relationships, and his great and beautiful mind. It’s in his eyes, the flicker of his smile. All you need to know about what is going on inside his head can be read from them. Wheelchair and voice box or not.

I have not seen American Sniper or Foxcatcher yet but I do not envy those casting their votes for the Best Actor Oscar this year. How do you choose between the astonishing, repressed Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch); the astonishing, disintegrating Birdman (Michael Keaton) or the astonishing, imprisoned Stephen Hawking?

I have been very impressed by all three movies and all three roles—but I would choose Eddie Redmayne.

Not because he is singlehandedly making slightly built, freckly gingers really rather hot. But because, just as comedy is so much more difficult to get right than tragedy, joy and life without schmaltz is so much harder to portray than a negative struggle.

This movie is remarkably sad and beautiful and full of love. I felt I wanted to sob at the end but I (weirdly) also felt that this would somehow cheapen what these remarkable people went through.

So I kept a stiff upper lip, just for them.


Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author

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