The Theory of Everything (2014): English filmmaker James Marsh's biopic about the celebrated cosmologist Stephen Hawking

A triumph as a drama that fails to impress as a biopic

By Tejas Nair

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

The Theory of Everything, Film Poster, Directed by James Marsh
The Theory of Everything (2014) By James Marsh

IMDb Ratings: 7.8
Genre: Biography | Drama | Romance
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Tom Prior
Country: UK
Language: English | French
Runtime: 123 min

SummaryA look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife.

As much as I dislike the title of this film for inappropriateness, I liked Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal as Stephen Hawking. And the degree of both is just above average.

Anthony McCarten may have had plenty of headaches while writing this romantic drama under the disguise of a biography, because how large a gimmick is the story, the same goes for director James Marsh in building the setup. They should have had gone back in time, defying their subject scientist’s theory, and pondered upon how to create an adaptation of a memoir which seems partly biographical and mostly a novella. I haven’t read the memoir and nor do I intend to, but the main problem with this apparently inspiring film is that it focuses more on the personal lives of Professor Hawking and his ex-wife. While that be it, the thing that fuels this problem into a wildfire is that the audience think of it as just not a romantic drama (like the synopsis suggests), but actually an upright biography about the cosmologist.

The Theory of Everything, Directed by James Marsh, starring Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones as his Hawking'a Jane Hawking
Eddie Redmayne as Stephen and Felicity Jones as Jane 
To an extent, even director James Marsh (whose Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire, about Philippe Petit’s daredevil act, failed to gather traction; Robert Zemeckis’ upcoming film “The Walk” deals with the same subject) tries to sweep it off as a romantic drama. The ounces of insights into the professor’s study and his theories can be found only in the background, thus nullifying the whole shindig. As a romantic drama, I started loathing a few characters, which if I disclose might make you loathe me as well; characters which can be found in a string of romantic dramas over the past decades.

As a biography, which it sometimes pretends to be, The Theory of Everything shuns science which is ironic. Eddie Redmayne is fabulous, although he may slip by with only an Oscar nod. Felicity Jones is sweet and so were the supporting actors, who would have had bigger roles to act if this were not a genre confusing tide.

Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, Directed by James Marsh
A Still from James Marsh's The Theory of Everything
The cinematography is fine, and so is the music, the latter of which tries to support the apparent inspiration inducing characteristic I was talking about. All said and done, the film never quite bores you, always engaging us with short sequences that describe as to what really happened since 1963. Had they exploited 5 minutes of the 120 minute narration to explain his disease, I would have jumped up in my chair.

BOTTOM LINE: The Theory of Everything is a non-self-deprecating drama that takes its viewers on a canoe-ride into the lives of the great Stephen Hawking and second-rate Jane Hawking. A drama so good and a biopic so bad that if one wanted to learn about the scientist’s theories, one should read his books instead!

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES

About Author - 

Tejas Nair is a writer, film critic, and Engineer from Mumbai, India. When he is not watching films and reviewing them on IMDb, he can either be found reading or blogging. Sidney Lumet’s “12 Angry Men” is his favorite film. Tejas blogs at

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