the wonderful world of veena.

21 December 2014

movie review: the theory of everything.

Let's begin with a confession: I really had no idea who Stephen Hawking was until about 7 or so years ago. I had heard of him every so often while I was in college, but his name didn't come up often in history seminars, so I never actually knew who he was or why people spoke of him with such reverence in their voices.

Fast forward to 2014, and although my knowledge of Hawking's life and work isn't exactly extensive, I have a much better idea of who he is and why he is so famous. So when I began seeing trailers for The Theory of Everything, a movie about Hawking being diagnosed with ALS as a doctoral student at Cambridge and how he and his first wife dealt with the disease and curated their lives around it, I was intrigued. Not only did the movie look interesting in general, but I was curious to learn more about how he has lived with such a devastating disease for 50 years.

Going into the movie I expected it to be a bit of an epic, and I was very pleasantly surprised when it was just over 2 hours long. It moves along quickly, from Hawking's first meeting with Jane at a Cambridge party [in the first 3 minutes of the film!] to his diagnosis and beyond, and I really didn't feel as though it lagged at any point.

I don't know how accurate the facts of the movie were, but there is no doubting that the acting performances were superb. Eddie Redmayne was spectacular as the young Hawking - you can't deny that resemblance - and he displayed the ALS progression with beautiful subtlety. And Felicity Jones as Jane was excellent. Her character takes such an arc, and Jones was great as both his dedicated caretaker and his exhausted wife.

I also really liked that the movie was equally about both Stephen and Jane. I know the subtitle is The Extraordinary Story of Jane and Stephen Hawking, but I still kind of expected it to be more about him than her, and I was pleased to see that it really was about both of them. It showed how each of them dealt with Stephen's disease, and how they banded together to deal with it and to raise their family.

As can be expected of a movie of this caliber, it is already generating tons of awards chatter, and it is easy to see that the praise and speculation are well-deserved. It was probably one of the best movies I've seen this year.

And it also taught me that my brother is convinced every single British person in the world was in the Harry Potter movies. That guy.

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