Critic’s Pick: ‘Theory of Everything’ proves power of ideas, emotions

‘The Theory of Everything’
Felicity Jones is Jane Wilde, Eddie Redmayne is Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.”
(Liam Daniel / Focus Features)

It’s simplistic to think of “The Theory of Everything,” which traces many years of Stephen Hawking’s life, as one of those typical scratch-the-surface movies about the man. To be sure, Hawking’s ground-breaking work in theoretical physics and the origins of the universe, as well as his refusal to be stopped by the neuromuscular disease that has taken nearly everything from him but his mind, make for a rich and thrilling story. All that is in this movie. But what director James Marsh and screenwriter Anthony McCarten have given us is a paean to the power of ideas and emotions. For that is what fuels Hawking and the film — his feelings for wife Jane and his unquenchable desire for answers. The performances are indelible: Eddie Redmayne, as Hawking, wilting ever more deeply into a wheelchair, every word spoken a monumental effort, and Felicity Jones as Jane, seemingly managing the impossible in revealing the internal fortitude required to shoulder such a heavy load. It is the way in which the actors and filmmakers translate the abstract, the heart and mind of the matter that makes “The Theory of Everything” exceptional.