In this biopic of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Eddie Redmayne gives an absolutely brilliant performance, painting for us a picture of a very complex individual who struggled between his academic and personal lives as he coped with the ALS diagnosis.
The direction and plot are very standard; short of the performances by the two leads, the film offers us no surprises in terms of its storytelling, editing, or other aspects. The film does not focus at all on Hawking’s work; it consciously shies away from the science and focuses on the personal events that made him who he is today. This almost felt to me like a cop out, as if the writers didn’t bother with attempting to make the science interesting enough for the general audience. What we’re left with is a story about one of the most brilliant scientists on earth, without the science. They get away with it though, as Redmayne and Jones’ performances carried the film.
I’m very surprised that the film is nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, considering its lack of a ‘wowing’ factor compared to the other nominees (or some films that were not nominated). It’s definitely worth a watch, though, if only for the performances of Redmayne and Felicity Jones alone.