The Theory of Everything is the best picture nominated true story of Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne). The film begins with him in college, meeting the soon-to-be love of his life, Jane (Felicity Jones). We're then taken through Hawking's life as he attempts to solve the question of how the universe started, falls in love with Jane and tries to fight an illness that will eventually shut down all the muscles in his body. There's really not an awful lot to this movie in terms of plot. It's a story of love, marriage, a genius and an illness that he refused to let get in the way of his life.
After watching the trailer for this film, I knew it was something I needed to see. Sitting down and watching the trailer for the first time swelled up an abundance of emotions, putting me on the brink of tears. It's quite a powerful and moving trailer, naturally making me excited to see the film. So I went to the film, sat down eagerly, thinking of what's to come, and what did I get? Something that's, well, not quite as fantastical as advertised. In fact, it's not really that great a film. A good one? Yes. A best picture worthy one? Not in the least bit. The academy sorta mucked up the best picture nominees this year, and I know others will agree with me. I didn't think so prior to seeing films like this, but now that I have, I finally understand what everyone was complaining about.
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are what make this film watchable, Redmayne in particular. Their performances are truly something we can revel about. Redmayne is almost flawless as Stephen Hawking as his body slowly deteriorates, forcing him into a wheel chair. The fact that he can display so many emotions with very little movement is something noteworthy, but he has Jones to thank for this as well. She helps to bring up the emotion in his character, providing us with both a strong female lead and an even stronger performance.
Following these character's journey is a heart wrenching experience. The first act of this film was brilliant, giving us just enough insight into Stephen Hawking's life and work so that we care about him and just enough of the love story to be invested in that too. Then Hawking is diagnosed with his illness and the film takes all sorts of turns, some for the best and some for the worse. The medical journey is emotional, providing us with a powerful tale. However, it takes too dominant a position in the film, briefly pausing to discuss the love story and then almost completely disregarding his work. We stop learning things about his work and focus in on his illness, which I can assure you is not enough of a story to keep me entertained for two hours.
I'm not saying that I want this film to be a complete rip-off of A Beautiful Mind, but I am saying that it needs to take a little more inspiration from it. They're very similar films, or at least they could've been. A Beautiful Mind is the story of a very intelligent man with an illness that affects his life, just like with The Theory of Everything. But what makes A Beautiful Mind a much better movie is that it perfectly blends its love story with the story of the illness and the story of his work. With The Theory of Everything, it fails to share the stories, resulting in it becoming rather choppy.
It's filmed and directed wonderfully, sure, and the performances and beyond amazing, granted, but take them away and what do you have? Not a lot. You have a fairly generic love story told on the backdrop of a fairly generic tale about fighting an illness. There's nothing really special about the film. Plus, it's presumably very farfetched compared to the true story. After all, we're talking about a Hollywood adaptation of a book that originally showed Hawking in a negative light, but was rewritten after the author, Jane Hawking, started getting along with him again. Plus it also received the 'please give us an Oscar because we're trying so hard and this is a true story so it must be good' treatment, which always dramatises things to the extreme. Truthful? Who knows. I'm doubting it.
To sum up, The Theory of Everything may have some brilliant performances, direction and cinematography, but when you take that away, all that's left is a generic love story that focusses in a little too much on the illness and not on the person.