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Award season reviews: The Theory of Everything

So with the award season almost upon us, I’ve decided to watch and review what films I can find from the Oscar nominated list and give my opinions on who should win what.

At the minute, the final nominees are yet to be announced, we just have about 50 films shortlisted for the next round, but you can kind of guess what films are going to make it to the final round. The films making it to award night will be announced on January 15th but I wanted to get a head start and I couldn’t wait any longer to write my thoughts on The Theory of Everything, as it was as good as I’d hoped it would be.

If you’re unaware of the premise of The Theory of Everything here’s a little synopsis. It tells the incredible true story of Jane and Stephen Hawking. Whilst studying his PhD at Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) meets Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), a literature student. Shortly after they meet Stephen is diagnosed with Motor Neurons Disease and is given only two years to live. Despite his diagnosis, Jane is determined to stay with Stephen, vowing to help him fight the illness and care for him indefinitely; an enormous undertaking for someone barely in her twenties. Two years come and go, Jane and Stephen are married and start a family having three children together, but Stephen’s health continuously deteriorates and he is increasingly reliant on the care of Jane.  Throughout the film you see the strains of Stephen’s illness and his growing need for care combined with his unwillingness to accept outside help, the pressures of family life and Jane’s own pursuit of a career and her dwindling presence in Stephens life and works as his fame grows take a toll on their marriage. Eventually, they bring in help in the way of Elaine Mason (Maxine Peake) whose patience, protectiveness and admiration for Stephen make him question his marriage to Jane, leading to divorce.

Despite the love story not having the happy ending we’d dreamt it would, the divorce doesn’t take anything away from the love and companionship you see throughout the whole film and I think that was the filmmakers intentions.  They’ve seemingly wanted to portray a relationship not of pity, but of friendship and respect, so the divorce makes sense; neither person is happy with one another and you are hoping for a happy ending for each.

What’s more bitter sweet than the break-up scene is the final moments of the film in which Stephen is asked what his philosophy through life is. The film rewinds, his illness disappears and step by step he’s back to the man he was, dancing with Jane.  It’s almost as if his body is confined but his mind is free as he utters the words, in the most famous voice on earth; “where there is life, there is hope.”

The most wonderful thing about this film, besides the amazing true story, are the performances by everyone involved, but especially Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Redmayne’s transformation in the film is just incredible to watch. His ability to transform himself from an able bodied man to being completely wheelchair bound with little to no movement and to gradually limit speech day by day must have taken so much perseverance and practice. And he did all this with perfect precision with regards to Stephen’s mannerisms, his facial expressions and his satirical personality. You almost forget that the man you’re watching isn’t Hawking himself. To perform, so believably, as such an iconic individual is just outstanding. This meticulous attention and commitment to the role places Redmayne at the forefront of the Best Actor race. And similarly with Felicity Jones, as her portrayal of Jane is so layered and endearing. Jane selflessly combines her life completely with Stephen’s, whilst trying to not lose a sense of self. And you see that through Jones’ performance, in simple, little moments of Jones by herself, or the way she regurgitates Hawking’s works like she’s losing herself in place of him. But yet Jones is able to maintain the individuality of Jane along side such a famous and iconic character.  You find yourself, as an audience, trapped in Jane’s struggle with her, wanting happiness and not wanting to abandon her family. And I credit Jones for all of these feels.

So if I haven’t made it clear, I see Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones being absolute frontrunners for best actor and actress at the Oscars and beyond. Although I haven’t taken a lot of time to go over the other aspects of the film, directing, writing etc., collectively it could win best film. Nothing about this film is lacking and a credit must be made to the costume and makeup department for the transformation of Redmayne and ageing of Jane. It’s been the perfect start ton2015 in film.


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