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THEORY OF EVERYTHING, THE

SYNOPSIS: The love story of world renowned English physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his first wife Jane (Felicity Jones) during his youth when he is diagnosed with motor neuron disease. (Based on a true story.)

Review by Louise Keller:
Defying every expectation both scientific and personal, this film depicting the extraordinary story of Stephen Hawking is unforgettable. The challenge for Eddie Redmayne in portraying Hawking, physicist, cosmologist, author and unique human being, is to put us into the head and heart of the man whose theory about black holes, the universe and time has earned him awards, accolades and respect throughout his life. It's an astounding performance and Redmayne gives Hawking dignity when dignity is lost and heart when it is hard to imagine there is anything left to give. The diagnosis of motor neuron disease at the age of 21 and a two year life expectancy should have put paid to his ambitions, yet his philosophies about life and love is inspirational and testament to the tenacity and determination of an indefatigable spirit. Director James Marsh (Man on Wire) has crafted a most beautiful film filled with intelligence, understatement, pain, joy, love and pathos. It is impossible not to be profoundly moved and inspired by this story.

The film's perspective is determined by the fact that the screenplay is adapted from the book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Hawking's wife Jane. It is a love story. The story begins in 1963 at Cambridge - their eyes meet across a crowded room. What's a cosmologist, she asks? Religion for the intelligent is the enigmatic reply. For the man who aspires to come up with one single equation that explains everything in the universe, it seems apt that their first kiss is under a sky filled with a million twinkling stars.

Hawking's unconventional brilliant mind, his sense of humour, his love for the music of Wagner and his resolve to continue his work about quantum theory and general relativity when the ravages of his progressive disease destroy his muscles, mobility and power of speech, are a stirring juxtaposition. The utter dedication with which Jane (Felicity Jones in her best role) supports and cares for the man she loves - and bears his three children - is inspiring in itself.

'Join the church choir,' Jane's mother (Emily Watson) tells her daughter, when all the strains and stresses of full time care for her wheelchair bound husband become too much. The subsequent bond, friendship and eventual romance with Jonathan Hellyer Jones (Charlie Cox), the local choirmaster evolve in a moving and decent way. The tone Marsh creates after various serious setbacks and when Elaine (Maxine Peake), the carer who states Hawking is 'the most brilliant man I've ever met' is introduced, is perfect. The sadness and devastation between husband and wife as their love is forced to endure the unendurable is profoundly moving.

There is much more I could say about the man and the film. The casting of every single role is excellent with special mention to David Thewlis as Hawking's Cambridge tutor. I like Johann Johansson's music too, which like the film, is devoid of sentimentality. Like The Sea Inside and The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, The Theory of Everything plays tribute to a man intent to achieve despite his severe physical setbacks.

The fact that the detail of Hawking's scientific achievements and theories is kept to a minimum is inevitable, given the complexity of the subject matter but there is more than enough to stimulate our interest in the man and his ideas. Suffice to say, his 1995 book A Brief History of Time has sold over 10 million copies. There are few such inspiring true stories about remarkable people. This one is well worth your attention.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's about time. Big Time. A timely adaptation of the autobiography of - no, not Stephen Hawking - his first wife, Jane (Felicity Jones). Timely because at 72, Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is still alive as the film is completed, some 50 years after he was expected to die. Timely, too, because science that keeps questioning and seeking more knowledge needs a universal champion and cinema is the best platform to deliver one. And of course, it's about time itself, which Hawking has sought to tame in both personal and scientific terms, all his adult life.

Eddie Redmayne's performance - wrapped in his uncanny physical investment - is the absolutely vital key in this film and it's a scorcher, both sensitive and brave and effecting and devoid of sentimental mush, yet infinitely sad and moving. Notably though, Hawking's sense of humour shines through even the darkest themes and Felicity Jones delivers Jane's caring yet down to earth nature with tremendous flair.

Maxine Peake is wonderful as Elaine, who comes into Hawking's life as a therapist but stays as his second wife and David Thewlis makes a solid contribution as Hawking's lecturer, Dennis Sciama.

James Marsh guides the film's grace notes and exposition in beautiful balance as we follow Hawking's two heroic journeys; one personal, one scientific. Of course the immense irony of a brilliant brain trapped in a buggered body never lets up, but the film's great achievement is that this is allowed to form naturally.

Superb design and score complete this outstanding adaptation by Anthony McCarten, destined to be of lasting value.

Those who know the story will rejoice in its haunting screen presence, while those who don't will be enthralled even more.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

THEORY OF EVERYTHING, THE (PG)
(UK, 2014)

CAST: Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Simon McBurney, Maxine Peake, Charlotte Hope, Tom Prior, Raffiella Chapman

PRODUCER: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten

DIRECTOR: James Marsh

SCRIPT: Anthony McCarten (book by Jane Hawking)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Beno”t Delhomme

EDITOR: Jinx Godfrey

MUSIC: J—hann J—hannsson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: John Paul Kelly

RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 29, 2015







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