The Theory of Everything (Dir. James March/2014)
The Theory of Everything, predictably, does not live up to its name. Based on Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking (portrayed by Felicity Jones), this is her perspective on the black-holes genius. Bookended with the physicist collecting his CBE, the baffling (but audience-savvy) title implies an all-encompassing account of his life, when in fact it’s his first relationship that’s core. Rooted in the 1960’s, the twee and affluent Cambridge locale gives little sense of the era and only hints (in a throwaway line noting Hawking’s involvement with “Ban the Bomb” marches) at the wider context of the period. Director James Marsh successfully paints an affectionate portrait, sensitively charting a young, cheeky Stephen Hawking (An outstanding Eddie Redmayne, deserving all accolades) growing aware of his condition (of motor neurone disease), but it slips downhill as a montage shows his growing family, and the increasing pressure on his spouse. Those who aren’t versed in the medical details and quantum physics dominating the professor’s life are surely interested in how he managed to balance these life-changing challenges. Opposed to what we are shown as Jane, sulking in the kitchen, watches tiresomely as children chase their wheelchair-bound father in the lounge. The narrative plays as a small-scale romance, with the love-that-can-never-be between Jane and a local conductor (Charlie Cox), playing out in the church choir. The Theory of Everything is earnest in its intentions, but it veers away from the man we want to know better - Hawking himself.