Viewed – 16 May 2015 Pay-per-view
I don’t think there are many people in the world who haven’t heard of acclaimed Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. The Cambridge University graduate turned Professor has gained numerous awards through a lengthy career specializing in the theory of time and the universe and how it all began etc., whilst at the same time battling the muscle wasting neurological disorder motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He has certainly become a huge inspiration to many, finding fame and achieving many things whilst battling the impossible.
So a movie of his life has been long overdue and with an Oscar nod for Eddie Redmayne for his portrayal, going into this my expectations were high. The story focuses on his latter years at Cambridge University and around the time he first began to experience the symptoms of the disease whilst also meeting and falling in love with his first wife Jane (Felicity Jones). I was surprised how quickly the movie portrays the disease. It goes from a hand not working, to falling down to being on sticks to being in a wheelchair incredibly fast, and it has to be said my emotional investment took a hit as a result. I’d expected more of a gradual deterioration which I’m sure would have been the case. Add to this a slightly unflattering turn from Felicity Jones causing Jane occasionally to seem cold and put-out rather than the loving, yet struggling spouse I’d imagine she was. Her friendship / affection for an organist at her church however does at least add some depth. So we come to Redmayne, who is nothing short of superb; his deeply affecting performance right on the nail, to the point of being uncanny, capturing much of the real man’s quirks and charm as well as his agony. It reminded me of Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot.
Shortcomings aside, director James Marsh has made a very elegant and quite beautiful movie out of a difficult subject. Although glossing over much of the darker times, he delivers a gentle, yet no less moving and engrossing story that does the famed Professor a real honour.
Verdict: 4 /5