"The Theory of Everything"

Eddie Redmayne stars as physicist Stephen Hawking in the film “The Theory of Everything,” now playing at Regal Downtown West 8 in Knoxville.

From the moment I saw the trailer for “Theory of Everything,” I knew I had to see the film.

There was just something beautiful and alluring in the biopic about Stephen and Jane Hawking. Even if it wasn’t completely factual, I was intrigued by this young couple and the seemingly insurmountable odds they faced.

The brilliant Stephen (Eddie Redmayne) and demure Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) met while in college. They weren’t even married when Stephen was diagnosed with motor-neuron disease. It was a devastating diagnosis.

His muscles would begin to fail. The ability to walk would become impossible. Simple tasks like holding a cup couldn’t be accomplished. He would lose the ability to speak. HIs body would betray him, and his life expectancy was two years.

Maybe the worst part of the death sentence was that Stephen’s brain would remain intact. He would think, hypothesize and more, but he’d never be able to articulate or use his theories again.

Enter Jane. Country legend Tammy Wynette ain’t got nothin’ on this woman when it comes to standing by her man. Despite Stephen’s efforts to push her away, she declares she is a woman in love, and that they would face whatever came their way.

That love story was a predominant part of the film’s trailer. “Stephen and Jane against the world and a debilitating disease that’s going to rob him of his very life.” It looked amazing and romantic.

Well, that very love story gets shot in the foot pretty early on. While Jane does have an amazing fortitude and determination in becoming Stephen’s caretaker, frustration kicks in after the birth of their second child. Yes, that part still works. I don’t want or need to know the how.

The film is a fascinating look at many different aspects of life. After being diagnosed, Stephen embarks on a journey to discover the mysteries of the universe, but more importantly, time. His rise from a simple college student to the world-renowned genius we know today is a bit of a geek pleasure to watch.

Redmayne is brilliant as Stephen Hawking. The transformation he undergoes from a smiling, happy college student to the unintelligible, bent form we’re more familiar with is amazing to watch. If he doesn’t get an Oscar nod for this one, I’ll be surprised.

While the love story might not be so beautiful, the cinematography is. The sweeping shots and breathtaking beauty you might have seen in the trailer just doesn’t do it justice. It’s rare that such things stand out with me, but “The Theory of Everything” has to be one of the most beautifully shot films I’ve seen in a while. The details, the colors, the angles ... it’s masterfully done.

“The Theory of Everything” isn’t a love story, despite what the trailers might lead you to believe. At least, it’s not a love story between a man and woman. Instead, it’s one man’s dream to understand the universe and our place in it. And it’s the story of the woman who helped him achieve his goals, even if it made her miserable.

Based on the real Jane Hawking’s memoirs, “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen,” I can’t tell you how much is true. I’m hoping some things are exaggerated, otherwise Stephen Hawking is kind of a pervert and also rather irresistible to the ladies. Neither is an image I want to carry in my head.

Despite Stephen’s debilitating illness, Jane is made to be the tragic hero here. She’s a woman who gave up everything to support the man she loved. You might be familiar with the archetype: the long-suffering wife.

Only it doesn’t make much sense in the grand scheme of things. She cares for their three children and stays with him when she’s already met another man she loves — and later marries after she and Stephen split. I mean, hello, sacrifice.

So, the character motivations ascribed to Jane in this one don’t make a lot of sense. We don’t get the whole picture, but it’s based on the real Jane Hawking’s memoirs. Everybody has to be the hero in their own story.

“The Theory of Everything” is engaging, even enjoyable. Just don’t expect to get swept up in a grand story of love, devotion and determination.

Amanda Greever is the assistant managing editor of The Daily Times. Contact her at amanda.greever@thedailytimes.com, follow her on Twitter @agreever_editor and “Like” Weekend on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dailytimesweekend.

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