“There should be no boundaries to human endeavour. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.” S.H.
This month’s movie is on a high right now. After winning several awards, including the Golden Globes, and being nominated for 5 Oscars, this King’s Speech-esque romantic drama is on the rise to be one of the most talked-about ones in this award season. The intimate story of the relationship between Jane Wilde and Stephen Hawking has moved a large audience already, and it looks like it will move many more. Only time, and critics, will tell.
The movie is based on the premise of a young couple, in that romantic phase which is typical of new relationships, being shattered by the shadow of disease. And it’s not any disease. At the very young age of 21, Stephen, a Cambridge alumni who would later become the rockstar physicist he is today, began having troubles with his muscles. Upon an accident, he discovers he has motor neuron disease, which, though not compromising his intellectual abilities, will slowly degenerate his neuro-muscular capacities, making it progressively harder to walk, eat, speak and move in general. Stephen was given 2 years to live, and the movie plot goes from there.
Jane’s passionate decision of sticking up to Hawking and marrying him anyway, knowing the troubles awaiting them, is one of the main themes of the movie. Stephen’s fight against his own physical limitations and his struggle to keep active in spite of them is also central to the plot. It is, though, their relationship which builds the cornerstone of the movie, and makes it what it is. The very idea that Jane agreed to marry Stephen and fight alongside him thinking he had only two years to live is a moral gravitational point in the movie, especially when considering that these two years turned into 52 and counting (as he still lives and works). Their relationship, as well as his disease, developed through the years, and the heavy burden of caring for Stephen and their three children proves a lot for Jane. Stephen starts having increasingly more help from others, help which would come due to his success and his groundbreaking theories. I won’t go beyond this point, as spoilers are very serious business.
Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Hawking has been awarded with a Golden Globe for best actor, and an Oscar nomination. His sensible portrayal of Hawking’s physical decay combined with showing the person and the mind within is a breakthrough. Redmayne’s performance could capture both the singularities of Hawking with physical disability in a sensible, down-to-earth manner. On such a touchy subject, an actor has to give the best of himself not to end up exaggerating, caricaturing and appealing to a more pitying portrayal. In this, Redmayne’s talent was key, and he delivered it with the sensibility necessary to the part. Felicity Jones wasn’t left behind, as her sensible and complex portrayal of Jane is one of the main voices within the movie. The soundtrack, by Jóhann Jóhannsson, is nothing short of amazing, and has won well-deserved award and praise.
The movie is based on Jane’s book (Travelling to Infinity, my life with Stephen), a greatly intimate autobiography of a love story. The magic of the movie is being able to see the struggles and successes of a love story with a twist. It’s not your typical love story, obviously, and it doesn’t pretend to be so. Instead, the movie is a proof that love stories are more than the happily ever after, it is indeed more than running on prairies together. To love is much more complex. The portrayal of the fight against the disease and the difficulties of a caretaker are also quite universal in its most primitive sense. Many can relate to the fear of not having control over one’s body, but at the same time, one can relate to the struggles of the person on the other side, the person putting their lives on hold to take care of another. It is not an exaggeratedly romantic account of their lives, though. The movie puts together sensible moments with sarcastic humour, puddle-of-tears-inducing scenes with nice and intelligent dialogues. It talks about time, in its most complex scientific way, in its most complex, emotional facet too. Hawking defied time and probability with his disease, Jane and Stephen’s relationship was built upon time and wore off due to it. Time doesn’t go back. And time is relative.
Personal Rating: ALL THE FEELS