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‘Theory’ fueled by Redmayne and Jones performances

Tom Long
The Detroit News

‘The Theory of Everything” follows a linear “true story” formula, comes on a bit goopy at times and ends, as the true story has, fairly messy.

But two brilliant performances combined with the inherent inspiration in the story of Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane elevate the film. The movie is nowhere near as mawkish as it might have been, and Eddie Redmayne's physically wrenching portrayal of Stephen is beautifully balanced by the subtle strength of Felicity Jones’ Jane.

Some of the material here is well known; some is downright surprising. An assumed healthy and clearly brilliant Stephen meets the sparkling young Jane at a party while they're both in college and he begins pursuing her. Love is in the air.

But then Stephen is on the ground, having inexplicably fallen at school. A trip to the doctor ends in a diagnosis of ALS and Stephen is given less than two years to live.

He and Jane marry anyway and even begin building a brood of kids (some parts of Stephen work just fine). He does not die, although he does wither away physically as Jane becomes his full-time caregiver as well as a mother.

When she's at her wits end, she meets a local minister (Charlie Cox) who she falls in love with and who befriends Stephen as well. Things get complicated. Meanwhile, of course, Stephen becomes recognized as a brilliant physicist even as his condition continues to deteriorate.

Redmayne starts out brimming with awkward charm and retains that spark even as his character slowly collapses. Jones goes from dazzling to distraught with steely resolve. “The Theory of Everything” offers intimate scenes from a very specific and challenging marriage, warts, black holes and all.

‘The Theory of Everything’


Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and suggestive material

Running time: 123 minutes

“The Theory of Everything” (PG-13) Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones star as Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane in this biopic that gets a bit mawkish and messy towards the end but still offers inspiration and insight into a challenging marriage. (123 minutes) GRADE: B