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As a history buff, I’ve been really enjoying all the biopics we’ve been getting in the past few years, from Lincoln and 12 Years a Slave to The Invisible Woman. And while I have some problems with the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything (more on that later), overall it was a very enjoyable film.
The Theory of Everything begins in 1963 with Stephen Hawking, a lazy but brilliant student at Cambridge University, meeting Jane Wilde at a party. As the two’s relationship deepens, Stephen, with the support of his professor, hypothesizes that a black holes may have been responsible for the creation of the universe and decides to write his thesis on time. Both Hawking’s relationship with Jane and his ambitions to formulate his thesis are thrown into doubt, however, when he is diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which will eventually leave him unable to move, swallow, or even talk. Despite this, the two marry and have a child and, with Jane’s support, Hawking is able to present his thesis, which rockets him to fame.
However, even as Hawking is becoming famous, his health continues to decline and Jane is left to take care of both her husband, now wheelchair bound, and their three children. Exhausted and unable to work on her own thesis, Jane becomes increasingly frustrated. From here, the Hawking’s personal lives begin to fall apart, with Jane falling for Jonathan, a widower who befriends the family and helps Jane take care of Stephen and the children, and Stephen divorcing Jane for his new and much younger nurse Elaine. The film ends with Hawking, having becomes internationally famous after the 1988 publication of his seminal A Brief History of Time, inviting Jane to meet the Queen with him.
…I have mixed feelings about the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything. Although it was beautifully shot and Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones gave exceptional performances, the fact that it only touched briefly upon the struggles of Hawking’s first wife, Jane, despite being an adaptation of her memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, left me feeling that the film did her a disservice. I won’t deny that Stephen Hawking is a genius who’s had to struggle with ALS, but I submit that Jane Wilde created the conditions for Hawking to succeed: Jane all but gave up her own career, took care of him and their children, and in the end was rewarded by Hawking leaving her for a younger woman and being ignored in a movie based on her memoir! That, and the pacing of the film felt a bit rushed.
Overall, I enjoyed this film and, rant about the ignored woman aside, thought it was a very well done film. I give The Theory of Everything an 8.5 out of 10.