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In the history of ever, the Theory of Everything

Paul Peterson

Paul Peterson

I have clearly staked out my territory in film these days. I like movies where people are nice to each other. It’s that simple. To quote Don Henley, we all need a little tenderness, how can l survive in such a tasteless age?
So I approached The Theory of Everything with some promise.
It’s a bit daunting given that it’s a biopic about one of the greatest minds of all time, Stephen Hawking – he of A Brief History of Time, among others.  They won’t even let me into that section of Chapters.  There’s one of those little amusement park signs that says ‘You must be this smart to enter’ and then they make you one side of a Rubik’s cube. I’m out.
However, I thought the film might be enjoyable because it is essentially a love story. Two people falling in love and being nice to each other.
Spoiler alert!
At some point, I’m going to share a key plot element so if you are one of those I-can’t-know-anything-or-the-story-is-ruined types, stop reading.
Just for the record, this is a really good film.
Theory_of_EverythingGreat direction by James Marsh. It’s up close and personal as well it should be.
The acting is pitch perfect.
There are going to be Academy Award nominations coming here.
Certainly for Eddie Redmayne, whose transformation into Hawking is remarkable. We meet him as a young physicist at Cambridge, bright and charming and slightly awkward. He meets Jane and there is instant chemistry. They are a force and for a short history of time, they are happy, brilliant and living in that bubble until he has a nasty spill coming on the heels of some unusually clumsy moments and finds out he has Lou Gehrigs disease.
His response is to withdraw but Jane will have none of that and what starts to unfold as the love story of the ages is under way.
They marry.
Have three children.
She supports him in every way while raising kids and trying to pursue her own intellectual calling.  Of course it’s exhausting and we feel her world weariness.
For his part, he committs himself to fighting what is ravaging him and looking into his favorite obession, time.

The film is based on Jane Hawking’s book Travelling To Infinity; My Life With Stephen, so there is a great deal of delicacy and respect.
Marsh presents her in saint like characterization and she is.
It must have taken such a toll.

So here’s the thing: As beautiful a story as it is, and as loving as they were, the suggestion here is that they both had affairs. She with his caretaker, and he with his therapist.
Arnold’s got nothing on this pair.
I get it.
I really do.
It had to be terrible, especially for her. How could it not be?
We all have needs and that contact, that wall of despair. I really do get it.
Still, how does that change the summary statement? They lived, they loved, they had their lovers on the side.
I know I’m judging and who the hell am I to say?
Oh right, I’m the guy writing the column. I just hate the commodification of intimacy.
It’s a universe of two, not three, or any number other than 2.
But I digress.
It can be a great film even if it isn’t the greatest love story. Close enough.
Then again, I probably wouldn’t have forgiven the Princess Bride and that movie would have only been five minutes long.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElsePaul Peterson

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