Stephen Hawking is without doubt one of the great minds of our time and demonstrably a champion for the cause of overcoming insurmountable obstacles. Yet when it comes to mainstream cinema, the Hollywood factory line would normally break down in the face of a wheelchair-bound hero spouting mind-breaking astrophysics through a mechanical voice.
Sure there was a telemovie – starring Benedict Cumberbatch no less – but Hawking’s was never a big cinema story. That is until the perspective shifted to his first wife Jane. The Theory of Everything is not a tale of physics or physical disability. This is a love story, at times a rom-com, and – spoiler for real life – somewhat of a tragic one.
This change in perspective to tell Jane’s story delivers two vital outcomes.
Firstly, it allows Hawking to be a flawed hero; at times bitter, in denial, even unlikeable. The tale of his diagnosis and fight is infinitely better for knowing how close he came to resigning himself to disappearing, and the personal complications brought on by his success, both professional and medical.
Secondly, it means the film has no end. The last half of the story is covered in the last ten minutes of the film. Skipped over really. In a foolhardy effort to avoid tarnishing reputations and to deliver a too-neat happy ending, The Theory of Everything drops the ball entirely.
While the rightly award-recognised Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones excel in the lead roles, they are abandoned at the last turn by a film that sacrifices too much for a postcard ending.
‘The Theory of Everything’ Movie Times