The Theory of Everything – Method
Following the SAGs, and the win by Eddie Redmayne (now that’s a SAG and a Golden Globe for Redmayne) I finally decided, “Screw it, I need to find out what all the fuss is all about.” This brings me to “The Theory of Everything,” the, some might say, ultimate story of Stephen Hawking and his fight against ALS with the help of his first wife. At it’s core, “Everything” is what you would expect in a melodramatic biopic. There are happy moments, sad moments, moments of triumph, moments of loss, and many more moments. However, and I’ll be the first person to say maybe I was wrong, the performance of Redmayne is method and pretty extraordinary, but is that enough to drive a film to greatness?
So, the story of “Everything” is pretty well known at this point, especially if you know the story of Stephen Hawking, a man who’s career is nearly torpedoed by Lou Gehrig’s Disease……or so we think. We also see the up-and-down relationship between Hawking and his first wife, Jane, played by Felicity Jones. Other than that we get a few scenes when Hawking talks about black holes and radiation, but other than that, it’s a film about what two people will do to keep both a relationship and career working.
With that being said, is “Everything” a good film? Meh, it’s simply okay, as a film that is. This is the same problem that I had with “Foxcatcher.” The performances in this film and “Foxcatcher” are very well done, yet the film itself is simply “okay.” Nothing in particular stands out in “Everything” other than the fact that Redmayne buries himself in the mythos of Stephen Hawking. The mannerisms, speech, and pain you feel is real. You feel that Redmayne IS Hawking.
What also detracts from the film, for me at least, is the metaphor of between love, black holes, and Hawking’s disability. Sure, I know you need a plot device that both summarizes his theories and coincides with his relationship with Jane, but it seems forced and all together cliché. There is also the issue of his theories essentially glazed over. There are two scenes where his theories are brought up and slightly talked about. I also find it hard to believe that his theories were all based on love and the metaphor that he was a “star” being sucked into a black hole. Again, just my issues with hiding a serious subject inside a pseudo-cheesy love story.
The rest of the cast is decent enough with Jones pulling her weight and even the future Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) putting in a good performance as Jonathan Jones. Another thing I like is the conflict between Jane’s Christian beliefs and Hawking’s agnostic sensibility, but again, while it’s nice they touched on that aspect of their life together it seemed rushed and merely a footnote.
In conclusion, will Redmayne do what many people thought the unthinkable and upset Michael Keaton in this year’s Oscars? There are two things that I’m noticing at this time. With so many people comparing Redmayne’s performance to Daniel Day-Lewis’ in “My Left Foot” (which won Day-Lewis the Oscar) the odds are improving for him. Second, I liken “Everything” to “Amoure” another film that gained major momentum going into the Oscar season, and even dealt with very similar content. Combine that with the fact that Julianne Moor will likely win her first Oscar for “Still Alice” another film dealing with a character with a debilitating disease, this could be the upset that not many saw coming until now. While “Everything” isn’t “everything” it’s cracked up to be, it’s one of the best male acting performances of 2014.
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Fun Fact: Hawking’s seminal book “A Brief History of Time” was published in 1988 and has sold over 10 Million copies.