The Theory of Everything

At age 21 the legendary Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease similar to ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and given two years to live. As an audience, it is our privilege to watch a brilliant actor inhabit the persona of a brilliant physicist, cosmologist, professor and best-selling author (A Brief History of Time) who is, over 50 miraculous years later (November, 2014), still alive.

Screenwriter Anthony McCarten, working from the book by Hawking's first wife Jane, gives us a PG-13 script in which there are no bad guys, just semi-ordinary people dealing with extraordinary issues. Director James Marsh doesn't shy away from awkward details but conveys the intellect and wit that defines our hero. Our screening audience laughed out loud many times.

We admire:
  • Eddie Redmayne ("Les Miserables") is Stephen Hawking, mildly clumsy at the beginning but we are sad to know he will only become worse. Even with a mechanical voice however, he shares his nicely honed sense of humor.
  • Felicity Jones ("The Amazing Spider-Man 2") is his wife Jane. When she tells her prospective father-in-law that she is a lot tougher than he suspects, we believe her!
  • Emily Watson ("The Book Thief") Aunt Isobel advises an overworked Jane to join the choir, which sounds absolutely absurd!
  • Charlie Cox ("Boardwalk Empire") Jonathan is the choir director.
  • David Thewlis ("War Horse") Professor Sciama becomes one of Hawking's most effective advocates.
In my opinion, the defining moment in the upcoming Oscar race will be when we watch Hawking imagine being whole again. We see Redmayne unfold from his distorted position curled in the wheelchair and in one astonishing take, gradually become straight and tall. He slowly descends the stairs and picks up a pen that has been dropped. No prosthetics; no computer-generated imaging; no camera tricks. Brilliant!
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Here is a sample:
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