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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 1, 2015

Review: The Theory Of Everything - Touching Biopic Of Stephen Hawking

‘THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING’ won the Oscar best actor award for its lead actor, Eddie Redmayne. It’s now showing on a limited run at Ayala Cinemas so be sure to catch it as it’s not the type of film that lasts very long in theatres. Directed by Anthony Marsh, it’s based on the book “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen” by Jane Wilde Hawking, ex-wife of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.
The film starts in 1963. Stephen (Redmayne) is a bright 22-year old graduate student at Cambridge University who meets literature student Jane (Felicity Jones) in a campus party. They fall in love but while he’s doing research for his thesis, Stephen’s muscles give out while he’s walking and he hits his head on the concreted ground. He is diagnosed to have motor neuron disease or ALS. His body will be paralyzed but his brain will remain intact.He’s also given only two more years to live. Despite this, Jane decides to marry him and they soon have a child. He is still able to finish his thesis about the origins of the universe starting from black holes and he gets his doctorate. He becomes a world renowned physicist, but he is now wheelchair bound and has difficulty talking.

They have a second child, but Jane gets depressed because of her inability to pursue her own career. Her mom tells her to join their church choir where she meets Jonathan (Charlie Cox), the choir’s conductor. They become good friends, along with Stephen, and she soon becomes pregnant again. Her mom asked her if Jonathan is the father, thinking Stephen is no longer capable of having sex. Jonathan hears it and decides to stay away from the Hawking family, admitting that he has indeed fallen in love with Jane.

Stephen’s life is endangered when he gets pneumonia while going to a concert in France. Doctors tell Jane the only way to save him is through tracheotomy, which will ruin his vocal chords and he’ll never be able to talk again. They get a caregiver for Stephen, Elaine (Maxine Peake), who helps him communicate through a white board where he writes his messages. The two get along so well and eventually end up with each other.
Later, Stephen tries a computer with a voice box synthesizer and, somehow, he is able to talk again. It is through this that he gets to write “A Brief History of Time”, a best seller worldwide. He is invited to a speaking engagement in America and he tells Jane that he has chosen to take Elaine in this trip. This makes Jane realize that their marriage has ended and she goes back to Jonathan. Stephen’s speech in America is a big success and he gets a standing ovation. Later, when he gets invited by the Queen to the Palace, Stephen takes Jane with him. They have remained good friends even if they now have different partners. They look at their three kids who were with them and Stephen says: “Look what we made.”

The film’s centrepiece is Redmayne’s outstanding performance as Hawking. At 72, Hawking has defied all odds and changed world views about cosmology and time. Redmayne captures his courage, brilliance and indomitable spirit. From the start, Redmayne makes us believe he is really the character he plays, watching his decline from a healthy intelligent young man to someone afflicted with a debilitating disease. Eventually, as he gets imprisoned in his wheelchair, Redmayne has nothing but his facial expressions and his tell-all eyes to bank on to show what he is going through and he makes it all look so real and believable. Academy voters just love this kind of performance, which approximates that of Daniel Day Lewis as the similarly disabled hero in “My Left Foot”. In all fairness to Felicity Jones, she matches Redmayne’s sensitive performance with her equal persuasive portrayal of Haswking’s supportive wife. She surely deserves her own Oscar nomination as best actress.