Our ‘Film of the Year’ 😉 and for good reason.
Yup, It’s New Year’s Day and we have already made the trip to see one of the newest ‘Big Hitters’: those biopics that target one person’s strength and battle against adversity with everybody leaving the cinema saying “wasn’t [insert lead] brilliant and didn’t he act just like [insert real person]” with us all expectant to see the highlights cut together for a slot at the [insert relevant film award].
The latest film to fit into my naïve pre-categorisation being The Theory of Everything the biopic of Stephen Hawking, Directed by James Marsh. Yes, rather ignorantly, it does fit there but has also transformed the genre for me with its sheer fantastic construction and demands explanation as to why.
Firstly, and most importantly, he is an entirely interesting human being. A character profile that most feel acquainted to, but like most of these profiles, we don’t really know them, do we? The Theory of Everything introduces the audience to the brilliant man Professor Hawking is and always has been, rather than ask you to join him as the cliché young man in pursuit of ‘self-discovery’.
You share his experiences and learn about Professor Hawking’s character with Eddie Redmayne playing the part hypnotically. What starts, as any good film can, gradually becomes a performance of very considered looks and facial expression with Eddie’s portrayal as the lead. We see a man’s condition deteriorate without losing sight of the man he continues to be, it is a marvel to watch and truly believable. Both performance and the Direction allow you to share in the humour and stoicism of a man and his pursuits, rather than spending the majority of the film dealing with those heroic ‘crisis’ scenes. You know, where the hero has a very literal ‘emotional crash’ on-screen before experiencing an epiphany just in time for the picture to wrap.
I felt the writing of the story was brilliant with the right tone throughout. The right amount of time was spent on the disease and the deterioration that Professor Hawkins experiences on a day-by-day basis. But chiefly, this doesn’t become the backbone of the film itself. Felicitiy Jones as Mrs. Hawkins has some lovely moments within the film and is as much the protagonist as the Professor. The importance and influence she clearly had is a big deal, and the moments the film portrays are considered and delicate. Beside every great man is a woman reminding them they are just a man. I have most definitely got this analogy wrong, but it certainly works for the purpose of this review.
Ultimately, the challenges that this cruel disease poses becomes engrained in the daily routine and obstacles for the couple to overcome; this is of course, consequential and visually evident but isn’t necessary to constantly stress. The character of the man and his contributions to the world of Science are testament enough to this; the film is right to celebrate his achievements without placing motor-neurones disease, the damage it does, front and centre.
For me, the importance of cinema should have at heart humanity and relationships, it is always a pleasure to see a film that does so within the complexities of reality and a lifetimes experience so well. If I had to give this film a mark out of ten, I would say:
Watch it; take tissues for the tears and value from the messages put forward.
Thanks for reading!