Stephen Hawking’s life story brings everything into perspective

Ruthie Gottesman, Contributing Writer

The Theory of Everything starts out as your typical romantic flick: boy catches the girl’s eye from across a crowded room, boy and girl get to know each other, girl meets boy’s parents, boy takes girl to a ball, the two watch the fireworks, and the two share a dance and a kiss.  However, most movie-goers know from the start that this will not be your typical cinema romance.
This is a movie based on the life Stephen Hawking, a world-renowned physicist living with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The movie covers twenty years of Stephen Hawking’s life, focusing on how Hawking deals with his illness and pursues happiness, despite his disability and dim prognosis.
What makes The Theory of Everything unique is that it does not obey the public’s desire to see a perfect love story, where a couple defies all the odds and manages to stay together.  Instead, it takes an untraditional route, honoring the complications of life.
The movie was based off of Hawking’s ex-wife Jane Wilde’s memoir, Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen, and the movie is as much Wilde’s movie as it is Hawkings.  Eddie Redmayne, who plays Hawking, does a surreal job of transforming himself.  Stephen Hawking himself has been reported as saying that at times thought it was himself on screen, and not an actor.
Redmayne flawlessly replicates Hawking’s physical degeneration. Each progression, from crutches to wheelchair to machine that voices his thoughts, captivates the audience.
What is most notable about Eddie Redmayne’s performance is his sheepish smile.  In the beginning, when Stephen first sees Jane, before his illness strikes, his smile is radiant.  This smile manages to be just as charming, maybe even more so, in the later stages of his disease, when his neck fails to continue to support his head and his mouth is a tad lopsided.  This smile demonstrates the character’s perseverance and his will to enjoy life, despite many setbacks.
Hawking is told at the beginning of the movie that he has two years to live.  The fact that he survives decades past this prognosis is never addressed in the film, leaving audience members feeling incomplete.  Also, Hawking’s theories are never explained in a satisfying way and are perhaps oversimplified for the audience.  The movie touches upon the tension between science and religion, but never delves too deeply into these issues.
Even though the story focuses on a physicist who believes in equations and definite solutions, it beautifully balances the relationship between boundaries and boundlessness.
The film will surely get some recognition when award season comes around.  In fact, The Theory of Everything has received four Golden Globe nominations, including best dramatic motion picture, best score, and best actor nods to Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.