Monday, 1 December 2014

REVIEW - THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (JAMES MARSH)


The mind of a genius is undercut by the body of an invalid in The Theory of Everything, a film that brings to one's mind the immense determination required to withstand the most crippling illnesses, without actually depicting it. James Marsh's anaemic biopic of Stephen Hawking is sadly devoid of the passion and intelligence with which the great scientist chooses to define his existence, instead following a loose, shapeless physical approach that resembles neither the rigour of the man's intellectual achievements nor the restriction of his condition. I shall correct myself: The Theory of Everything is not a biopic of Hawking, but of the Hawkings, and the film is confined to the progression of the relationship between Stephen and Jane, which is here reduced to one trite contrivance after another, the distillation of decades into events shaped not by their own reality but by the fantasy of the movie romance. One anticipates every inevitable change in their circumstance together, systematically foreshadowed by a narrative that uses familiarity to lull, rather than to surprise, to placate, rather than to arouse heartfelt emotion. Technically, The Theory of Everything is a rambling, artless piece of work, but for one key technical aspect: the technique of performing. A capable cast displays commitment and empathy, though Eddie Redmayne as Stephen is a marvel. He acts through, not around, his subject's disability, his own frame utilised as a tool in the acting process as it ever would have been, only somewhat deformed. Redmayne's dedication and charisma elevate this humdrum film, his own genius refusing to be undercut by lazy filmmaking on the behalf of too many others.