“Ultimately, you’ll be left with unutterable admiration for the man, not for his work but for his determination.”

The Theory of Everything (2015)
by Matt Allen @MattAllenSaid

Certificate: 12A
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Harry Lloyd, David Thewlis
Director(s): James Marsh
Screenwriter(s): Anthony McCarten
Running Time: 123 mins

It’s that time of year again and the cinemas are filled with biopics, true stories and other such Oscar fluff. That’s right, awards season is here and with the Academy Awards themselves just round the corner we’re kicking off 2015 with our appraisal of the biggest contenders for the Golden Baldies. So keep a look out over the next month as we tell you what to watch out for come Feb 22nd. First up is Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything

As the greatest mind of our generation, Stephen Hawking (Redmayne) begins the work that will change physics forever, he is struck down by a disease that threatens to trap his thoughts within the shell that his body will soon become.

Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten around to reading A Brief History of Time yet. I mean, who has the time, right? Fortunately, James Marsh’s depiction of Prof. Hawking is far more concerned with the man than he is with the work. Mercifully, explanations of black holes and the like are kept to a minimum and have little to no bearing on the story at hand.

Instead, we are introduced to a man that is both familiar and unrecognisable in the pre-debilitated Stephen; a kinetic personality that burns through even now at the height of his disease is matched by Redmayne’s portrayal of his playful nature and general good humour even throughout the unimaginable challenge of almost complete paralysis.

A best actor nomination is certainly on the horizon for Redmayne have already picked up a BAFTA nom. Most impressively, Hawkings expressions – which, owing to his disease, are so iconic – are mimicked immaculately and capture perfectly the vibrant mind behind within a body that has failed him.

As expected given the material, the story is a compelling portrayal of the effect the disease had on Hawking’s personal life, specifically the relationship with his first wife Jane – played with expert fragility by Felicity Jones – as their marriage deteriorates along with his body.

Most striking is the horror of the situation itself, the thought of gradually becoming entombed within your own body but, while the tragedy of the situation is communicated perfectly, it is balanced well with the lighter notes and keeps the dark form overwhelming it. Ultimately, you’ll be left with unutterable admiration for the man, not for his work but for his determination.

Redmayne’s mesmerising performance is nothing short of outstanding but take that away and you are still left with a touching tale that is simultaneously devastating and elevating.

Maniac Rating - 4 Stars