The Theory of Everything

Nov 28, 2014

This biopic has everything.

The Theory of Everything

Grade: A-

Director: James Marsh (Man on a Wire)

Screenplay: Anthony McCarten (Show of Hands) from Jane Hawking book, Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen.

Cast: Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables)

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 123 min.

by John DeSando

“I have a slight problem with the whole celestial-dictator premise.” Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne)

The Theory of Everything has everything a Hollywood melodrama requires: attractive people fighting big odds and loving happily ever after.  Except that this is the true story of the cosmological rock star, Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne), stricken in his twenties with motor neuron disease, related to ALS and Lou Gehrig’s, and predicted to claim his life within 3 years.

Only it doesn’t, and this heroic professor spends his life thinking and writing, most notably his best-selling book, A Brief History of Time. Because this screenplay is an adaptation of his ex-wife’s, Jane’s (Felicity Jones) memoir, Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen, the film is largely about their romance, which is nicely done, and their three children (a bit of a drag), and a brief episode or two of his actually lecturing about his theories of black holes, time, and the super question about the existence of God, whom Stephen makes a part of his argument..

But if it has to be an emphasis on the challenges of their marriage and divorce, writer/director James Marsh has done well keeping the maudlin at bay and showing a sincere love between the principals. Eddie Redmayne should be nominated for an Oscar—he gets all the Hawking tics down remarkably well, going beyond Daniel Day-Lewis’s virtuoso performance in My Left Foot.

Add to all this some very good moviemaking: D.P. Benoit Delhomme drapes the frame in soothing rich color, enhancing my exalted notion of all things British.  The Theory of Everything is a classic romantic biopic, satisfying like shepherds’ pie on a cold winter’s day.

"However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at." Hawking

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at