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"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance
of things, but their inner significance." ~ Aristotle

Cinema Signal: Not quite a green light but has elements of strong appeal for a special audience. MOBILE version |
. "The Theory of Everything"

This biopic, which features Eddie Redmayne's ("The Other Boleyn Girl") extraordinary simulation of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking's battle with one of the worst neural degenerative diseases, is remarkable for its star's dedication.

The film is comfortably educational (for a general audience) and makes a point of a person standing up to a very bad hand doled out by one's fate. The biopic can almost be categorized as an incurable disease story (ALS), except that it's not one of those terminally ill romances that fill theatres with sentimental viewers. The subject, Hawking, while paralysed, still lives.

That it exploits illness for high emotional level is a ploy for Oscar consideration is uncontestable. Stephen Hawking's story is, indeed, tragic.

Still... My admiration for this movie is twofold: Redmayne's the crack performance and the homage it pays to a man who has advanced the studies of quantum mechanics, general relativity and black hole radiation. His book, "A Brief History of Time" was on the NY Times best-seller list for 237 weeks.

To cosmologists and students of the field, Hawking is a god.

While the general buzz about the Oscars (this is written on 2/18/15) revolves more around two other biopics ("The Imitation Game" and "Boyhood"), probably putting Redmayne in the "also ran" column, what he's achieved here is marvelous work in rendering an idea of what Hawking probably went through in a vivid and gut-wrenching way, condensed for theatrical purposes. It's not a documentary.

Strict reality and theatrical versions of real people's lives for movies we care to see are distant cousins, at best.

Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde, Hawking's first wife, and David Thewlis as Dennis Sciama, his doctoral tutor, play major supporting roles.

If Redmayne's insights into the humanity of the man he portrays doesn't win him the biopic-heavy Best Actor Oscar this year, his portrayal should elevate his standing in the industry universe and in our respect for his talent. It wouldn't surprise me if Hawking himself marvels at the actor's movie rendition. Whether this turns into more starring roles for Redmayne, however, remains to be seen.

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                                                                              ~~  Jules Brenner  

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Eddie Redmayne, channeling the great astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking,
in his younger days.

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