Theodore Stone review one of the most talked about films this year, as it’s hotly tipped for award-season success.
Portraying the British genius appears to be becoming a new standard of cinema. And rightly so – when one considers the roster of names available, whose life would be better suited for the screen than that of Stephen Hawking?
The film in question is a cinematic portrayal of the life of the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, from his meeting with future bride Jane Hawking to the publication of bestseller ‘A Brief History of Time’, a move which places the majority of the film’s narrative and emotional bulk upon the struggles of the couple, as they try to cope with Hawking’s disability.
Alongside this, there is an ongoing theme concerning the apparent battle between God and physics that is present throughout the film, but this I found to simply be excessive padding, rather than an actual intellectual discussion. The argument between Science and Religion can be a fascinating one, but if it is confined to a few side-remarks, it loses traction and simply becomes yet another form of pseudo-intellectual shoehorning. Similarly, the scientific theories authored by Hawking are crudely cast aside, something that I found to be a disappointment; a victory of style over substance. On a more positive note, however, Eddie Redmayne is flawless as Stephen Hawking.
Indeed, there were times when the man and the actor became inseparable. Likewise, Felicity Jones is a marvel as Jane Hawking, always equalling and, on many occasions, bettering Redmayne. Alongside this, Harry Lloyd is a scene-stealing wonder as Brian, Hawking’s fictional roommate, whose sheer energy and wit is the source of much of the film’s well-timed humour.
Whilst the portrayal of Elaine Mason, Hawking’s second wife, is an intriguing one, with Maxine Peake’s performance hiding a layer of cold wickedness beneath a friendly exterior, she is never given enough screen-time to flesh out her side of the relationship. Instead, she is relegated to the stereotypical “undisclosed villain” caste, and left to create sugary smiles.
The script delivers on nearly all accounts, and the way that it deals with the effects of Motor Neurone Disease is certainly well executed. In the end though, you are left to admit that it is, quite simply, a fluff film, something to make you feel good about the marvels of the human intellect.
But, then again, a bit of fluff never hurt anyone.
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