Monday, March 23, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING and gets smothered in niceness

Directed by James March

Ms. Hen watched THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, simply because she likes to know what’s fashionable. She liked the film, but it was nothing extraordinary. It helped that she does not know that much about Stephen Hawking, so much of the film was new information to her.

It is the story of Stephen and his wife Jane Hawking, based on her memoir, TRAVELING TO INFINITY. Stephen was a brilliant young physicist in the 1960s at Cambridge University and Jane was studying French and Spanish. He wooed her with conversation about the stars and she told him she wanted to study medieval Iberian poetry because she liked the idea of time travel.

He was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, and the doctors gave him two years to live. He lived much longer than that, and is still alive today. He wrote his thesis and the advisors told him his theory about black holes was brilliant.

His illness got worse and worse, and he refused to get help in the house. Jane and Stephen had three children. Eventually, he lost his voice and had to speak through a computer.  Jane struggled taking care of him and the children and in the end, they got a divorce.

There is nothing wrong with the film THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. But there is nothing wonderful about it either. It is about people who are nice, who can’t help but be nice and the niceness makes them boring, even though they may be brilliant. Even when they have affairs and do bad things to each other, they’re being nice.

Ms. Hen doesn’t know how she feels about such niceness. She likes attitude and spunk and people who have those aren’t entirely nice. Even though Stephen Hawking is a nice person and is considered brilliant, Ms. Hen doesn’t think she would like to have coffee with him because he seems too nice.

On the other hand, it could be the film that portrayed him that way. Films have a way of making people squeaky clean and much nicer than they are in actuality. Some films go the opposite way and show people in a worse light.

The one shining aspect of this film is Eddie Redmayne’s performance. Ms. Hen believes that he became Stephen Hawking, that he channeled his inner Stephen Hawking and magic happened.

Ms. Hen was reminded of the film THE IMITATION GAME, with which she was also not impressed. It’s the “Great Man” genre, showing men overcoming obstacles to achieve great things. It’s a formula, but THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING was better than THE IMITATION GAME because it was a more amazing story and the audience rooted for the characters. Because they were so nice.

Back to the nice thing.  This film was not exactly Ms. Hen’s cup of tea, but if you’re into physics, marriage or watching people being nice, it may be the thing for you.

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