2014 Movie Reviews: The Theory Of Everything

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Well, after Birdman & Interstellar, it’s nice to move on to some simpler Oscar bait. The formula is simple. Take a famous person who made some great contributions to the world, and make a film all about that person. It’s an old and tired formula, but it’s a great opportunity for an actor to show their skills and hopefully get some awards contention. Eddie Redmayne of Les Mis fame is trying his luck with The Theory Of Everything, A biopic of Stephen Hawking, a great mind stuck in a not-so-great body.

As far as biopics go, it hits all the right notes. Director James Marsh (who you may know from documentaries such as Man On Wire and Project Nim) has key insight on what to focus on and how to craft out a story like this. The screenplay (almost guaranteed to be nominated) is also very good, and the relationship between Stephen and his wife is well put together. The film is also very good about setting up Stephen himself, who I previously knew nothing about. Well, almost nothing.

But the highlight, of course, is Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking. It’s a very tough role for an actor to get right, but Redmayne manages to show us a man slowly deteriorating while never coming across as over the top. There’s also Felicity Jones as his wife, but while she is good, it’s a very subtle role. I’m starting to doubt her chances as a serious Oscar player.

Make no mistake, The Theory Of Everything is a very good film, probably as good as a Stephen Hawking biopic could get, but in all honesty… It’s still a biopic. It’s such an Academy friendly film, and with a year with Interstellar and Birdman, I really want the Academy to try something different. And I realize that I may be too generous with my reviews sometimes. A well made and enjoyable film, but, I’ve seen better.

****1/2

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