Stephen Hawking has a brilliant career and loving marriage ahead. But diagnosed with motor neuron disease, he's given two years to live - can Hawking solve the equation of life?
In 1963, Stephen Hawking was very far from the world-revered figure he is today. Instead, this biopic depicts Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) as a partying, rowing Cambridge student, interested in the "physics of lust", bantering with buddy Brian (Lloyd). Hawking is brilliant but yawningly lazy, giving Professor Sciama (Thewlis) answers scrawled on train schedules, meeting Jane (Felicity Jones) at a party, the pretty languages student bowled over by the awkward, charming young man. Love's blossoming when Hawking is told he has motor neuron disease, his muscles will degenerate - and he has just two years to live. Jane insists on marrying Stephen - but their journey isn't simple.
Remarkably, this biopic is, although it houses three narratives - the life of a gifted, afflicted being, a love story through time, a philosophical debate over God's existence versus scientific evidence. Excellent acting brings these together. Playing Hawking - humourous, luminous, increasingly dark as his body gives way despite his mind and heart growing - Eddie Redmayne delivers a stupendous performance. There are scenes when Redmayne can only express thorough his eyes (Hawking couldn't speak after surgery) and the anger and anguish of his glances are extraordinary, just like his naughty grins at nurse Elaine (Peak), who efficiently manages his moods and his reading of Penthouse. Alongside, Felicity Jones presents a powerful Jane, in love, growing fatigued, attracted to choirmaster Jonathan (Cox), racked by tension.
The music and cinematography, capturing Cambridge's lush prettiness, add glow, this portrait considerably brighter than a biopic like A Beautiful Mind, also exploring genius and agony. For those expecting a science lesson though, this film provides only fleeting moments of diet-physics. Instead, the focus is on Hawking's emotional discoveries, his "simple, elegant equation to explain everything" - love, hope and human endeavour, balancing the sadness of 'If only' with the courage of 'What if...?'
This movie reportedly made Stephen Hawking cry. Watch it. You'll see why.