Friday, 20 February 2015

A Brief History of Hawking

Oscars are always hot for biographical stories. This year alone we have had The Imitation Game, Selma, American Sniper, and today's film. The story of the finest, or most renown, scientist of a generation, this is The Theory of Everything.

A young Cambridge PhD student by the name of Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is a typical student. Staying in bed until the afternoon, doing assignments last minute, chatting up girls and drinking at parties. Just your normal student. Well, except for the fact that his thesis will rock the scientific world, whilst his attempt to disprove it will rock the world further. But in and amongst his academic achievements he falls in love with Christian girl Jane (Felicity Jones)and is diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, two things which do not compliment each other. The film follows Hawking's struggle with his illness, family, celebrity, and his research.

Before the chair, Hawking travelled by carousel horse

This film, whilst centred around Hawking's relationship, is all about Redmayne's performance. The tag line posts that this is the story of Jane and Stephen Hawking but Redmayne's complete physical immersion into Hawking's disability leaves his co-star in the shadows. Now, this is not to say that Felicity Jones' performance is not a strong one. On the contrary, Jane's struggle with different loves, her conflict with Stephen's beliefs, and her determination to stand by what she believes is right is wonderfully portrayed and with a suitable subtlety that echoes her conservatism towards rocking the boat. As with many cases at this time of year, the debate of 'most acting' versus 'best acting' is hotly discussed, and The Theory of Everything is a prime example. Incredible acting from all throughout, but for a story claiming to be about a pair, it features remarkably less of one of the performers, which leaves the film feeling unbalanced.

Stephen has to be chairful when playing football...

The film is well produced. The dramatic punches hit hard, whilst the comedy even makes way for laugh out loud scenarios; it is a rare achievement to weigh up both elements in the correct measures so as not to make either one seem out of place. An excellently written piece of cinema complimented by a moving score and stylish camera work throughout (some even would consider the lack of a cinematography nominations a snub). The film glides through the events of Hawking's life and achievements, perhaps a little quickly, giving a nice overview of struggles and difficulties he has had to face. It is James Marsh's tribute to a great scientist as much as it is a factual biopic.

A moving biopic, but not without its flaws. Filled with excellent performances all round.

Best Bit? Eddie Redmayne.

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