“The Theory of Everything” Is Everything I Want in a Movie

rs_634x1024-130930132749-634.eddie-redmayne-stephen-hawkings-093013A few months ago I was in a local movie theater (the Hi-Pointe Theater, if you’re in St. Louis–best popcorn ever) for some big-budget movie. As the lights dimmed and the trailers started to play, one in particular caught my eye. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had this happen while watching a trailer, but it actually made me tear up.

The trailer was for The Theory of Everything. In trailer terms, it basically told the entire movie, which I loathe, but in this case I almost think it was necessary to get that level of emotional reaction out of me. I knew I had to see this movie.

My high expectations were exceeded tonight when I returned to that same theater to watch the film. The Theory of Everything is a magnificent feat (no pun intended) of the big screen–it’s entertaining, charming, and funny at the right places, the direction is perfect, it tells a story that we kind of already know (it’s about Stephen Hawking) but makes every step of it fascinating and beautiful. It’s about time, love, God, and science. It’s about humanity.

There’s so much to say about this movie, but I’ll limit my post to the top three things about it (and what it made me think about). Mild spoiler warnings, but if you know anything about Stephen Hawking or have seen the trailer, you already know these things.

  • The Acting: Typically I would choose any actor creating a new character out of thin air to an actor imitating a real human being, but Eddie Redmayne’s acting in this movie transcends imitation. Not only does he play Stephen Hawking better than I could have ever imagined, but even if this wasn’t a movie about Stephen Hawking, Redmayne would have portrayed someone with Lou Gehrig’s disease perfectly. I can’t speak highly enough of Redmayne’s performance. He deserves ever acting award given this year. His co-stars are also excellent, particularly Felicity Jones.
  • The Heartbreak: It is absolutely heartbreaking to see such a brilliant mind get trapped inside such a broken body. This is what brought me to tears (oh yes, if I cried watching the trailer, of course I was going to cry during the movie) multiple times throughout the movie. The movie isn’t overmanipulative, but it also doesn’t spare the viewer what Hawking goes through. The fragility of life is on full display, and it’s remarkable that Hawking has lived into his 70s.
  • The Tragedy of Assumption: I’m not sure if this was an intended theme of the movie–perhaps this is more of a reflection of what the movie said to me specifically. There are scenes in the movie that show Hawking confined to a wheelchair but able to talk (with a heavy slur) and move his arms a little bit. The way he talks and moves would make anyone who doesn’t know Hawking think that he has some mental deficiencies, which is truly a shame. It’s the tragedy of assumption–we see someone and assume so many unfair things about them. Whether it’s someone’s physical appearance, the way they walk, the color of their skin, their gender, age, etc…watching the movie reminded me of all the ways I make assumptions about someone when I first see them and how wrong many of those assumptions are.

It’s somewhat interesting that the different types of love shown in the movie aren’t on my “top 3” list above. The love is wonderful to watch, and it tugged at my heartstrings, but as a whole the movie left me thinking about a lot more than finding a wonderful woman. Which I think is a good thing. Though if Felicity Jones is available…

The Theory of Everything is one of only a few movies that I’ve given 5 out of 5 stars this year, and I hope you get the chance to see it.

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