The Theory of Everything

 

Focus Features

 

Rating: PG-13

 

Reason for the Rating: Some thematic elements and suggestive material.

 

Plot Summary: A young physicist with a lifelong disability falls in love and pursues his life's work.

 

PopFam Recommends: Stephen Hawking's theories on black holes and time are mind-blowing, but this movie is good for the heart.

 

We've all heard of Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist who has spent his life studying black holes, the universe, and time. In The Theory of Everything, we get a glimpse into his personal life, and some of the moments that changed him.

 

As a young man, Hawking (played with stunning authenticity by Eddie Redmayne) was initially interested in studying cosmology, as well as doing all the things young men in college do...friendly competition, banter with the boys, and a healthy interest in girls. One night he happens to meet Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), a young woman studying at Cambridge. As their friendship is blossoming into romance, Hawking discovers he has Motor Neurone Disease, which attacks the nervous system leading to muscle weakness. Jane doesn't back away, and they are married shortly thereafter.

 

The Theory of Everything isn't so much the biography of Stephen Hawking, as much as it is the story of Jane's life with Stephen. She willingly chooses to marry a man who has been given two years to live, believing she can handle the stresses and strains that come with his disease and end of life. Little did she know he would surpass those two years and that her life would be filled with the joy of their children, as well as the weight of his disease.

 

Despite losing the ability to walk and speak clearly, Stephen continues to pursue his doctorate, writing his thesis on time, proving that time must have a beginning. Eddie Redmayne is truly amazing as a deteriorating Hawking. We see him go from a healthy young collegiate to a man who drags his feet when he walks, progressing into a wheelchair, and eventually losing the ability to speak. Through it all, Redmayne is believable and true. He never once comes across as false to his character, even as tears roll down his cheeks and his face remains in its permanent grimace.

 

As Stephen continues his pursuits in physics, Jane continues caring for his growing needs, eventually becoming weary of all that is required. Upon her mother's advice, Jane joins the church choir where she meets Jonathan (Charlie Cox). What begins as a friendship with the Hawkings eventually turns into a temptation for Jane. While Felicity Jones wasn't required to transform her body like her counterpart did, her transformation from a college student to a middle aged woman who has completely lost herself, is beautiful to watch. Her love for Stephen is never false.

 

The Theory of Everything is really a testimony to the power of love. Jane Hawking was the strength behind the man, and what she allows him to accomplish with his life is a testament to her devotion and loyalty. Despite their conflicting beliefs on God and the beginning of the world, she is able to love the father of her children and man she married. While a lot of attention is not given to Hawking's atheistic beliefs, they are mentioned, and parents should be prepared to discuss these ideas with children who see the movie.

 

Stephen Hawking might have theories about the universe and physics that are difficult to understand, but it's easy to see why The Theory of Everything was nominated for so many awards. It's a movie worth seeing.

 

Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Jane and Stephen have very different views on God, and never sway each other in the opposite direction. How do you think Stephen's disease might have solidified each to their position?

 

• Hawking says he "has a problem with the celestial dictator premise." How do you deal with this issue in your own life?

 

• Jane bears much of the burden of Stephen's disease silently and without help. How might their marriage have been different if she had sought and accepted help earlier? Explain your thinking.

 

--JW

 

Tags: Stephen Hawking,Jane Wilde,Eddie Redmayne,Felicity Jones,Charlie Cox

 

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