Infinite Probability of Happiness

The Theory of Everything

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Director: James Marsh

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Alice Orr-Ewing

Shadow Dancer director James Marsh delivers a fine, subtle film about the early Cambridge years of the brilliant theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything so remarkably portrayed on screen by Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn, Les Miserables) that he become one of the youngest best actor Oscar winners at the age of 33.

Redmayne’s portrayal of Stephen Hawking from gangly awkward scientist in the early 1960’s, through to his courtship of the lovely Jane Wilde, beautifully portrayed by Felicity Jones (The Invisible Woman, Hysteria) to his devastating diagnosis of the life altering motor neurone disease is absolutely phenomenal. The expressive face of Eddie Redmayne, his physical contortions in portraying Hawking is beyond superb as the Professor grapples with the horrendous paradox of being intellectually gifted yet physically crippled as the motor neurone disease takes effect on his body, limiting his speech, his ability to walk and even to eat properly.

Despite this crippling diagnosis, Professor Hawking and his wife Jane, manage to produce three children so obviously his reproductive abilities weren’t affected by the disease as weren’t his mental capabilities in which he managed to expound the Big Bang Theory and then later to disprove it in his ground breaking novel, A Brief History of Time, which sold millions of copies worldwide and propelled him to international fame http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking.

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The intellectual conflict in the film between Jane’s Church of England upbringing and Hawking’s cosmic atheism is delicately portrayed. One the most poignant moments is when Jane Hawking confides in her mother played by Emily Watson that she cannot cope with her husband’s crippling disability and having to bring up several children simultaneously. Her mother’s advice is typically English and suggests she should join the Church Choir. During Choir practice, Jane meets the able bodied and charming choral master Jonathan, played against type by Irish actor Charlie Cox, who soon befriends Jane and her famous wheelchair bound husband, Professor Hawking.

Unnaturally this seemingly impossible ménage-a-trios is not set to last as soon Hawking’s motor neuron disease takes a turn for the worst after he collapses during a Wagner concert in Bordeaux. Jane Hawking soon realizes that she is going to require a full time care giver to look after her famous yet incapacitated husband. The fact that the caregiver looks like a 1960’s Bond girl is testament to Hawking’s own flirtatious nature and soon through the aide of an American sounding computerized voice he informs Jane that him and the caregiver are flying to America together.

The mathematical probability of happiness is discovered in all its infinity as soon as Jane and Stephen find partners suitable for their own physical requirements, and this eventual separation becomes the emotional crux of The Theory of Everything, apart from the bleak physical disabilities and momentous scientific breakthroughs which has characterized a highly unconventional marriage.

Despite some directorial embellishments, James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything is a well-structured and sensitive portrayal of one of the world’s most famous Physicists who despite all the odds and being unable to speak or walk, manages to expand a theory of time which transforms all future scientific endeavour and quantitative research. Hawking’s insatiable will to survive is testament to the power of the human spirit, considering he was given two years to live at the start of his diagnosis.

At the centre of this film, based upon Jane Hawking’s memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen is a story of a very challenging marriage and of a couple whose determination to overcome every physical and emotional obstacle eventually led to their separation yet ultimately finding their own individual fulfillment.

The casting of Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones is critical to this film’s success as they both give exceptionally meticulously and ranged performance of Stephen and Jane Hawking which is all the more admirable for portraying such venerated and surviving figures of the British academic establishment.

The Theory of Everything is brilliant cinema, and highly recommended viewing for those that enjoyed films such as My Left Foot and Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

This is first rate acting at its best and has proven beyond doubt that Redmayne and Jones are truly gifted screen actors with an infinite career ahead of them. The soft focus cinematography of the entire film gives Cambridge a hallowed glow that ensures the audience gets a feeling that they too are watching a miracle, ably assisted by an exceptional musical score by Jóhann Jóhannsson.

 

 

 

 

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