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Theory of Everything, The


Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Maxine Peake, David Thewlis, Christian McKay, Emily Watson, Guy Oliver-Watts, Simon McBurney, Abigail Cruttenden

Director: James Marsh

Although there's no doubt that this is a tough watch, as motor neurone disease grips brilliant young physicist Stephen Hawking while he's still at university, the amazing performance by Eddie Redmayne as Hawking makes the effort well worthwhile.

Under the loving and watchful eye of his young wife Jane (Felicity Jones), who has shelved her own academic ambitions to care for him, we see Stephen quickly decline from clumsiness, into hospitalisation, walking with one stick then two, and finally into a wheelchair as his speech becomes difficult to understand, even as his brain seeks new horizons in the world of astro-physics.

Jones is rather less impressive as Jane, some of her line readings seeming a little stilted, and (not her fault) her later romance with Jonathan Hellyer Jones (Cox) is tritely handled by the director and writer Anthony McCarten. But, as long as Redmayne holds centre stage, looking uncannily like the real man, we remain rapt in his story - of incredible academic triumphs against the odds. And we share his agonising decline, right down to the last grimace and twitch, in a performance that goes beyond mere impersonation, and is certain to be recognised at Oscar nomination time.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by deluxe.
123 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 29 Dec 2014