The title of this uplifting but rather soppy movie is very misleading.
We all know about the phenomenally brainy Stephen Hawking, but if you go along expecting to be enlightened about his life’s work you might be disappointed.
Given that it’s generally only members of MENSA who are properly able to comprehend the idea of black holes, it is probably a good thing that the rest of us are spared the challenge of unfathomable mathematical equations and scientific jargon, but even so, that the professor’s career should be reduced to an at times Mills and Boon tear-jerker tends to sell its audience short.
Less of a bio-pic than a boy meets girl romance, James Marsh’s film is based on the book by Hawking’s first wife, Jane (played by Felicity Jones), and kicks off from when the couple meet while students at Cambridge.
Hawking is soon after diagnosed with motor neurone disease, given two years to live and the rest, as they say, is history.
With no antagonist in the script, other than the awful affliction itself, Marsh has little to deal with other than Hawking’s personal chronology, his close relationship with the saintly Jane and his coping with daily domesticities and family life (I didn’t know that he was the father three kids).
What the director does have going for him, however, is an astonishing performance from Eddie Redmayne as Hawking – it really is a tour de force, especially when he becomes wheelchair-bound.
Otherwise, there is a nagging tweeness, a soporific lack of drama to keep one engaged.
Benoît Delhomme’s warm and fuzzy cinematography is pleasing to the eye, but the swinging sixties that were happening outside of young Hawking’s Uni life are never evident, nor is there much connection to the rest of the world throughout.
“Cosmology is religion for intelligent atheists” is a pretty decent line to conjure up at the beginning of any movie, but unfortunately Marsh fails to expand by eking out the inner workings and philosophical bent of perhaps the greatest mind of our time.
~ John Campbell