Biopics often pander too much to the Academy to be taken seriously by casual and frequent filmgoers alike. And ‘The Theory of Everything’ does little to change that; it is very much an ‘awards movie’. But it has a charm to it that many biopics lack in their obsession with objective realism.
Unlike ‘The Imitation Game’, ‘The Theory of Everything’ tells the tale of a man who is still alive today. Hence there is a sense of uncomfortable intrusion, an invasion of privacy, into the lives of real people that other biopics don’t always possess. But this is the very thing that lends ‘The Theory of Everything’ its charm; it feels like a window into the struggles and frustrations of Stephen Hawking’s life, work and marriage. We see him for a real man and not the hand-of-god scientist genius that he is often framed to be in the media. All told, it feels like what a biopic should be.
As a film, it has its issues. The camera work seems questionable at times. That is, things audiences take for granted like focusing, framing and cutting appear occasionally messy. The juxtaposition of some establishing shots just plain doesn’t work.
The film also gets a lot right though. The acting is beyond superb and cannot be faulted. Eddie Redmayne deserves every award he earns for his lead performance as Hawking. Not only does he convincingly portray Hawking’s physical disability but even when in his most restricted state, can pull off nuanced emotion with little more than his eyes and mouth. Felicity Jones doesn’t have the physical limitation but she rivals Redmayne with the earnestness of her performance. The duo’s chemistry feels real, their romance true. Tragedy works best when onscreen characters and their relationships feel believable, as it does here. And tragedy is the hidden tone underlying much of the film.
The score complements this, whimsical and hopeful yet foreboding at the same time. The choice to light several scenes with a bit more of a sepia tone also helps the film’s charm and tragedy.
While not a masterpiece by any means, ‘The Theory of Everything’ is an admirable film that lures its audience in with its whimsy only to snap its jaws shut on their heartstrings. It is a biopic, but it’s an engaging one at that.
READ: Daniel’s Review