Biopics tend to make for good movies, as long as the subject matter is interesting.
But even then they sometimes don’t work. I thought the Hitchcock biopic could have been a lot better if they’d stuck to the story of how Psycho was made, rather than going off on a tangent about his wife having an affair.
Mostly they do work though, and it was my hope that the movie I went to today – The Theory of Everything – would follow that pattern.
The Theory of Everything Review: What’s It About?
A biopic of the lives of Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane, starting from their first meeting through to the award of Hawking’s (I think) CBE.
The Theory of Everything Review: How Highly Is It Rated?
Generally scoring in the high 70% range on all the regular haunts, this has been well received by the masses.
The Theory of Everything Review: Who’s In It?
The stars of the show are Eddie Redmayne as Hawking and Felicity Jones as Jane. Other actors involved include Baines from the acclaimed Doctor Who story ‘Human Nature’, the young one off dinnerladies who is now ancient, the guy who played Kenneth Williams in that great Carry On biopic on ITV in the early 2000s, and – most bizarrely of all – former France and Chelsea centre back Frank LeBoeuf.
The Theory of Everything Review: My Thoughts
Like I say above, the subject matter of a biopic has to be interesting to work, and Hawking’s life and how he came to be how he is today is certainly something I’ve always wondered about.
So this did work.
Indeed, I found it a highly entertaining and absorbing movie.
The main reason for that though wasn’t actually finding out about Hawking himself – because for reasons I’ll get to I think that could have been done better – but rather the story of how his life affected his wife.
To a large degree, this is a movie about the hardships of being a carer for someone who doesn’t seem to want to be cared for; or rather, for someone who doesn’t accept that he needs cared for. And that’s a story that so many people can surely empathise with throughout the world.
Though Hawking obviously has a hard time with his Motor Neurone Disease, the emotional impact hits hardest on Jane, who has stuck by him and put her life on hold for far longer than she would have expected, and gets very little in return.
And the thing is, most of this is done quietly and subtextually without the need to throw it in the faces of the viewers.
I liked that.
Hawking’s story was good too, but there were a couple of things that dragged that side of things down.
The first was that he was given a prognosis of being dead within two years of his diagnosis, and yet that obviously didn’t happen. But we were given no explanation for why that was or how he’s still able to use his hands, swallow and breath when the disease is supposed to destroy all voluntary movement.
It seemed to me to be a bit of an oversight to let that go unanswered. Maybe the truth is that nobody knows how he’s managed to live for so long and leave those two years trailing in his wake, but it’d be nice if it was addressed.
At least they explained why he can’t talk though.
On a similar note, the passing of time wasn’t portrayed that well. Though Hawking did age, Jane never seemed to, and without any clues that time had moved on, it went from being the 1960s to the 1980s in an instant. And I should say the only reason I knew it was the 80s was because someone in a hospital was watching Countdown on TV.
But apart from that I enjoyed it all.
In particular, the acting was fantastic. Redmayne did such an impressive job of impersonating Hawking and showing the slow decline in his health that in any other situation, he’d be in trouble for making fun of the disabled.
Jones however stole the show for me with her subtle nuanced acting style up against the loudness of Redmayne’s.
Both were great, but she pips it for me.
Should You Go To See The Theory Of Everything?
It’s a resounding yes from me. Small niggles aside, this is the best movie I’ve seen since 2013 and one that I’d recommend to anyone interested in biopics or – I suppose – Stephen Hawking.
Hopefully this is the quality of movie that can be maintained throughout 2015.