Spoilers Below: There are spoilers below but they concern real life things so if you know anything about Hawking you probably already know the spoilers 🙂
This movie was what I consider to be a fairly typical Oscar movie. Well-acted, interesting story but ultimately boring as all get out.
I really wanted to see this in theatres too. When I first saw the trailer (and knowing nothing about Hawking’s personal life) I thought it looked so romantic. Imagine my surprise when I went home and looked up the book and found out it wasn’t all that romantic. Can knowing too much about someone or something ruin a movie for me? Yeah. Sadly it decreased my desire to see it- which is good because absolutely no one wanted to go with me.
So when I finally watched it this week I was far enough away from disappointment to be hopeful and yeah disappointed again.
The first thirty minutes or so of the movie is actually good and Eddie Redmayne is really good here. His Hawking is bright and looking forward to his future while also being a bit prickly guy. There are little bits throughout- a shake, a fall, him being unable to pick up things before he really gets his diagnosis. Up until the point where he’s in the chair this is an enjoyable movie.
I really felt for him. There’s a great dinner scene where his friends are all eating and this is the first painful moment where he realizes he can’t get the fork. He won’t be able to feed himself anymore. Seriously, I almost cried.
It’s from that point on though that I had some problems with the movie. First of all Felicity Jones is a really good actress but I don’t understand the acclaim she got here. It was mostly that the character didn’t do anything for me. She goes on three dates with him and then finds out he’s terminally ill and suddenly loves him so much she must marry him and then that’s pretty much it. There are little nuggets throughout that she’s frustrated her work isn’t getting done. That she has to take care of him when (at first) he doesn’t want any outside help. But it never goes anywhere with her. She just felt so flat.
Maybe they were going with the doormat thing full force? If so, good job.
Then the end of the marriage is pretty typical. In real life and in Jane’s book (on which this film is partly based) it was pretty unpleasant to downright nasty. But in the film it feels like once he’s in the wheelchair any questionable elements of his personality are gone and the end of the marriage was so… polite.
Stephen: I’ve asked Elaine to go to California with me.
Jane: (Teary-eyed.) I did love you, you know?
Stephen: It will be alright.*
(*Paraphrasing from memory but that was basically the extent of it.)
I was sitting there like what? What? Okay, so you don’t want to do all the nastiness that’s fine but a little honest human emotion wouldn’t kill you would it?
I don’t know maybe I’m being harsh or I wasn’t in the mood to watch this one. It’s a beautifully shot movie and well-acted all the way around. I just have a feeling it would have been better (to me at least) if it was a little more honest. Oh, one last total nitpick but the ‘aging’ didn’t work that well for me. I don’t know if it was make-up, the actors just look so youthful I wasn’t really buying at the end of the marriage that they were older than the beginning by almost thirty years.
Recommend: If you like “Academy Award” type films yes- if not you could probably take it or leave it.