Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Harry Lloyd, David Thewlis, Maxine Peake, Simon McBurney, Emily Watson, Guy Oliver-Watts, Lucy Chappell, Charlotte Hope, Abigail Cruttenden, Christian McKay, Adam Godley, Alice Orr-Ewing, Thomas Morrison, Michael Marcus, Nicola Sloane, Nicholas Gerard-Martin, Brett Brown, Anthony Skimshire, Eileen Davies, Simon Chandler, Georg Nikoloff, Tom Prior, Sophie Perry, Finlay Wright-Stephens, Gruffudd Glyn, Paul Longley, Enzo Cilenti.
For many, science and mathematics are subjects that perhaps were lost to them early on in their education career. The rigidity of a subject in which arguably could be said has no poetic meaning or in which covets a greedy hold over the unknown and sometimes out of reach knowledge loses many by its complex language and equations. They are not for all, and yet it is, even to the poetic heart, the acknowledged building block of life and learning and it takes a very special person in which to make it accessible and, if not enjoyable, than at least memorable.
The Theory of Everything is that very best of British cinematic beasts and one of three hugely intelligent films to be inspired by key events and notable people in the island’s 20th Century history. Like Pride and The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything takes an in depth look at the remarkable life of one of one the people who questioned the purpose of existence and who refused to be ground down despite overwhelming odds.
The life of Stephen Hawking, remarkable, beautiful, frustratingly trodden on by cruel circumstances, is seen from his initial meeting with the woman who was to become his wife and the almost tragic disintegration of a body that was to break down around him. Poetry might not exactly be the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of a scientific equation but as the film progress, the viewer cannot help but be struck at the rhythmical and profound verse that is seen in the mind of a man who would tear up the book of what we know about the Universe.
Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch will surely be fighting it out for the traditional acting honours which will starting happening in a few weeks time and whilst it is tremendously exciting, even tantalising prospect to imagine that two British actors will be going head to head for the major cinematic prizes, it should be recognised the extreme lengths that Eddie Redmayne would have gone through to bring the life story of Stephen Hawking. For that alone not only should Mr. Redmayne fully deserve the Oscar for best actor this year but he should be recognised fully as giving one of the single greatest performances of all time in cinema.
Mr. Redmayne brings the eminent Cosmologist’s life to full realisation and his portrayal is both heartbreaking and life affirming. The incredibly humanity in the man, the single-minded determination to not let a disease beat him and the full understanding that a genius, that a person of incredible worth to the world is nothing without those who are willing to carry them on their shoulders, is more meaningful as a look at the human spirit than perhaps almost any film you could care to mention. For this, the likes of Harry Lloyd as his University colleague Brian, the ever gracious David Thewlis as Dennis Sciama, Simon McBurney as Stephen’s father, Maxine Peake as Stephen’s second wife Elaine Mason and of course the sheer agonising and struggling honesty of Felicity Jones’s portrayal of the woman who gave him everything and who cared deeply for his life, Jane Hawking, should all take huge credit in carrying the film on the shoulders of giants.
Like all great films, whether based upon real events or conjured up in the mind of a writer, humour and pathos need to be seen to go hand in hand and in The Theory of Everything, behind the serious tone and significance of the film, the self depreciating wit of the man shines through. It is this that makes the film something electric and prominent.
Standing on the shoulders of giants has never been more enlightening.
Ian D. Hall