The Theory of Everything
It’s made like a BBC Biopic, and it does fall into those pitfalls, but Stephen Hawking is too inspiring of a man and the two leads are absolutely great. Eddie Redmayne captures the long and harrowing decay that Stephen faced, and he equally conveys his love for life. Felicity Jones plays his wife Jane. Arguably she has an even tougher job than Eddie did. She has to reflect the hardships of the marriage that Eddie isn’t able to show. I preferred her portrayal of Jane in her younger years. There’s something lost in the film’s second half but I’ll get to that in a bit. It’s the strong performances of these two acts and their chemistry that makes the film ultimately worth watching. It does fall into the typical biopic pitfalls though, and really I’m not a fan of oscar bait biopics. Camera angles are basic and the cinematography is a bit glossy and saturated for this type of film. It’s more of a BBC type movie and less a piece of pure cinema. Note that I often find biopics extremely tedious and boring because that’s what they often are. Unremarkable history lessons about remarkable people.
The long period the film covers makes the film skip over a LOT of moments. They try to focus on Stephen and Jane’s relationship and as I said it’s well acted, but we miss so much and don’t get to dig into the depths of it. There are side relationships that need not have been given so much weight. The second half of the film really suffers because of this. If you’re gonna set up a strong emotional relationship between two characters then stick to that. The film jumps ship about 2/3 of the way through and it becomes more like a history lesson and congratulation of his later years. I felt a bit betrayed from the story they set up. For their relationships decay we’re too often shown reactions or characters shaking their head and looking off into the distance sad. The first half offers a much more nuanced depiction of Stephen and his relationship with Jane. The film falls into the biopic pitfalls, but luckily the two leads are able to hold the film together. It’s a basic biopic about a remarkable person. Because it’s a biopic about an important person it’ll be given a bunch of awards that it doesn’t deserve…. Damn the Oscars! *Sigghhhhhhh* I think a film focused on a specific point in his life (younger years) would’ve worked much better, but this is still a nice “feel good” ode to one of the most important men in history.
This came out a while ago, but I just caught up with it and figured I’d give it a mention. This film enters the pantheon of the greatest british prison movies. Jack O’Connell will be around for decades. His performance as Eric Love is among the best this year. He’s a tasmanian devil trapped inside a cage. “Starred Up” refers to an adolescent that’s promoted to an adult penitentiary. Structured confines force him to confront issues. The film feels real and almost like a documentary, which has its positives and negatives, but mostly it gives the film a sense of brutal reality. Space and framing captures the structured prison like a box. Inside it problems have to be faced head on. This is most highlighted by Ben Mendelsohn being a veteran inmate and also Eric’s father. Bursts of ravage and brutal violence gives the film a razor sharp edge. It gets a bit repetitive but the acting is so great that I was pretty much on board with the whole thing. In these brick walls we enter a new culture. The british prison slang initiates us into this world. We met a hierarchy of characters and learn the prison’s social ladder. Tight shots make the film claustrophobic. The fights and violence are shot handheld, which allows us an escape from the structured shooting style, but our breaths of fresh air are only for these savage violent acts. His reunion with his father confirms that Eric has been a part of a broken system his entire life. The film then explores if violent natured people can even change and escape this system. Without the help of the prison authorities it becomes apparent that these structured walls are enslaving and pushing them away from change. I don’t necessarily think it has anything to say that’s profound and I don’t find the story hugely compelling, but as a pure character study it’s extremely good. O’Connell is reason enough to give it a watch. Escalating and slow burning relationships make this film go. It’s the nuanced characters and ability to find intimacy among the violent natured men that makes it a worthwhile film.