Sunday, 1 February 2015

Review: The Theory of Everything


It's been quite some time since I've done a movie review, but then I guess it's been a while since a film has really touched me. 

T and I went to the cinema last night for a rare but cherished date night. I'd heard amazing things about The Theory of Everything, so I was hardly surprised when two hours later I was sad that it was over, and with tears in my eyes I was wondering why I hadn't been to see it sooner...

A story about Stephen Hawking could quite easily keep me interested for 2 hours. He is a brilliant and inspiring man who is known the world over, not simply for his groundbreaking discoveries about our universe, but because he has done so much whilst battling unbelievably bad odds. So it came as a surprise to me that the film focused just as heavily, if not even more so, on the experience of his wife Jane.

It was a pleasant surprise though, as seeing the story unravel from Jane's perspective brought new meaning to the film's title: The Theory of Everything. Being more than just a play on words around the essence of Stephen's work, to me, it felt like a metaphor for our expectations of life versus reality. 

Jane and Stephen were quite clearly in love when he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. At the age of 21, Stephen was given 2 years to live, and that was what they had prepared for - two years of fierce and unconditional love which for Jane would be followed by a devastating loss. They married quickly, continued their studies and started a family, but the two years they prepared for stretched on as the motor neurone disease very gradually rendered Stephen immobile against doctors' predictions. For Jane this meant not only being a wife and mum of three, but being a full time carer as well. 

The struggle for both of them is palpable on screen. Not only in the physical sense of coping with the debilitating nature of his motor neurone disease as it took hold of him over the years, but also with the feeling that it was never meant to last that long. In essence, the theory was that Stephen would die within two years, and the reality is that he is still alive today. Their story shows beautifully how in dodging an oncoming car we can wonder into the path of an express train. We can prepare for a theory to be right, but when it's disproved we're often left with no answer...

Whilst this sadly ended in a separation for Stephen and Jane Hawking, they parted amicably and were always joined in love for the family they created together. 

For me, The Theory of Everything, shone a light on the uncertainty of life and the unpredictability of love. It showed me that we can't always plan for things, but that's ok - theory gives us a direction of travel, but it can't give us all the answers. Luckily, I'm not looking for answers just yet, I'm happy to just sit back and enjoy the journey...

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