Stephen Hawking is a brilliant, brilliant man. A hyper-intelligent, eccentric student at Oxford University, he transferred to Cambridge as a graduate physicist. Whilst there, he met and fell in love with Jane Wilde, and was diagnosed with motor neuron disease; he was given a life-expectancy of two years in 1963, at the age of 21. Against all the odds, he is still alive today – shortly to celebrate his 73rd birthday – and is one of the world’s most-famed physicists and cosmologists. (Visit his website to find out more.)
The film was adapted from the memoirs of Stephen’s first wife, Jane, the mother of his three children who nursed him for over 30 years until they divorced in 1995. Anthony McCarten, who wrote the adaptation, had quite the job of packing in everything into 123 minutes. The film is densely detailed, and yet not intimidatingly so, with James Marsh’s directing making it a never-a-dull moment exploration of Hawking’s life.
Eddie Redmayne is fantastic as Hawking, and is hotly-tipped as a favourite to win at this year’s Oscars. Unfaltering in his delivery, his physical breakdown as Hawking succumbs to illness is so achingly accurate that you forget you are watching an actor. Instead, it feels more that you are privy to the most intimate moments of Hawking’s life.
Felicity Jones is also a triumph: she plays Jane, Hawking’s devoted wife of over 30 years, with aplomb and delivers a performance that perfectly conveys the frustration and endless optimism of those who refuse to give up on a loved one. Jane’s steely determination is matched only by that of Hawking, who appears to have endlessly gone against-all-odds in the face of everything.
As already mentioned, there are already whispers that the film is going to sweep the board during the awards season, and quite rightly so. This is a story about a man – a real-life man – who has delivered science to a mass audience, thrived in the face of death and wowed time after time with his brilliant mind. A real-life hero – and a fantastic movie.
In cinemas now.