There is a reason Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar for best actor in a leading role: If you are a fan of outstanding acting, pick up the clicker now (yes, before you read the rest of the review) and watch The Theory of Everything: Eddie Redmayne's Stephen Hawking is just that good. Again and again I found myself thinking I was watching actual footage of Hawking, as opposed to an actor's portrayal. Felicity Jones shines as well, as Jane Wilde Hawking, the renowned astrophysicist's first wife.
The cinematography is excellent, a collage of lenses, angles, and colors that brings the viewer back to Cambridge in the sixties, when Hawking was still a young man. The camera tells us that there is something wrong with him--but there is enough ambiguity in the telling so that we don't know what. And I loved the score, which perfectly compliments the moving pictures without becoming the focus of the viewer's attention.
Ok, so 5 stars for both the dramatic and cinematic aspects of the film. Now on to the literary aspects...
Here's where the problems start. Let's begin with genre. The Theory of Everything doesn't have one. Watching it, I would say that it has elements of a romance, a drama, and a coming of age story, but it doesn't meet all the requirements of any of the three. Before I watched it, I was thinking it was going to be a biopic of Stephen Hawking's life, but there is little in the way of information about his life that the average viewer doesn't already know. The focus of the movie is the relationship between Hawking and his first wife, Jane, which should make it a romance, and it starts out well enough in this regard. But when problems between Stephen and Jane lead to a dissolution in their marriage, there is not enough development of the issues between them--almost as if the screenwriter wanted to gloss them over. One minute they are the ideal loving couple, the next they are Splittsville?
It took some research to figure out why this had occurred. The movie was based on a memoir written by Jane Hawking, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, which Jane wrote originally in 1999 after Hawking divorced her to marry his nurse. In 2008, she revised the book heavily after Stephen divorced his second wife and reformed a relationship with her. I felt as though the screenwriter was trying to let us know that they had divorced without dragging either party through the mud. But divorces don't occur in the absence of screams, fights and tears, no matter what the screenwriter would have us believe. In trying not to tarnish either the individuals or their relationship, the writer tarnished both, making the people seem unrealistic and the relationship surreal. Conflict drives stories, and who has ever heard of a divorce without conflict?
Now on to the abrupt ending. Ok, so I am a writer and I can make my books any length I want, right? So I shouldn't complain about a movie, where the length is controlled? Actually, almost all writers have the same issues about length (other than JK Rowling and Dan Brown obviously) that screenwriters do. And a movie about the relationship between Stephen and Jane should show us why they reunited, not just tell us that they did by putting in a lovely scene with the two of them at Buckingham Palace.
But, as Meatloaf said, Two out of Three Ain't bad....
So, four stars for The Theory of Everything, based on the outstanding acting, excellent cinematography and fantastic musical score. Enjoy.
Ok, thanks again for your viewership and support. Please let me know what you thought of the movie--I am always interested in other people's opinions. In other news, The Intern is nearing its conclusion on #wattpad to excellent reviews and a top 10 spot in General Fiction. Give it a look.
Peter Hogenkamp is a physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and The Intern, a serialized novel based loosely on Peter's internship, published bi-weekly on #Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Cons; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and a Beta-reader at StoryShelter. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. He can be reached at email@example.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at firstname.lastname@example.org.