I didn’t think The Theory of Everything could live up to all the hype. But it did.
Honestly, there aren’t enough adjectives to describe Eddie Redmayne’s transcendent portrayal of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. The actor starts out as geeky and charming in the film’s opening segment, but after Hawking is diagnosed with motor neuron disease, Redmayne delivers a performance that’s probably one of the single greatest pieces of acting I’ve ever watched on the big screen. On the surface, you could argue that the turn is obvious Oscar-bait, but it’s also such a deeply intricate and raw performance, that you can’t help but be tremendously moved throughout the film’s running time. The fact that Redmayne was able to portray the effects of Hawking’s disease so vividly (with every movement and phrase), left me speechless. Sorry The Imitation Game, you can’t beat this.
As phenomenal as Redmayne is, I would be remiss if I didn’t signal out Felicity Jones and her brilliant portrayal of Hawking’s wife, Jane. I’ve never really seen Jones in anything before, but I was genuinely surprised by her grace, warmth and beauty. The romance between her and Hawking is gorgeously realized. This isn’t your typical Hollywood love story; it’s a realistic chronicle of one couple’s poignant and uplifting journey against the odds.
Interestingly enough, the performances are outshone by another element. The film’s musical score (by the uber-talented Jóhann Jóhannsson) is one of the finest achievements I’ve ever heard. The Icelandic composer beautifully enforces the film’s dreamlike qualities with compositions that invoke real pathos and heart. It’s truly exceptional work, particularly during the film’s goosebump-worthy final sequence.
Also worth mentioning: Stephen Hawking himself provided the character’s computerized voice. Yup, he’s amazing.
With one of the most extraordinary performances in recent memory, The Theory of Everything is a stunning piece of cinema that is sometimes difficult to watch, but always inspiring.