Posts Tagged ‘Eddie Redmayne’

The Theory of Everything: This Film Has It All—Movie

December 2, 2014

Thankfully one doesn’t have to be a scientist to appreciate the excellence that is “The Theory of Everything.” One just has to love a great story and outstanding acting from a cast that’s simply perfect. Directed by James Marsh with screenplay by Anthony McCarten, based on Jane Hawking’s book, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, “The Theory of Everything” is the story of brilliant theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife, Jane (Felicity Jones) and what a story it is.


The film begins in 1963 on the Cambridge campus where we get an early look at the wonderful wit of Hawking. Brainiac that he is, Stephen also seems to be beloved by his classmates as just a regular, fun guy. At a party he meets Jane, a fellow student. Jane is a literature major and extremely smart, fully capable of holding her own in conversation with Stephen. There seems to be an immediate attraction. However, Stephen is fairly inarticulate and clumsy around women and it takes some time for the two of them to get together. When they finally do become a couple, sparks literally fly. He has a close relationship with his professor, Dennis Sciama (David Thewlis), who seems to “get” his brilliant student in a way few others do. It’s he who helps guide Stephen in the direction of the topic of his doctoral thesis—the origin of the universe. At a time when everything seems to be coming together for Stephen…academically and personally…it all goes horribly wrong when he suddenly collapses on his way to class. Stephen is diagnosed with motor neuron disease (ALS) and is given two years to live. His first reaction is to hole up in his room, seeing and telling no one. Finally he confides in his friend, Brian (Harry Lloyd), who tells Jane. Stephen wants to call it quits with Jane, but she manages to convince him otherwise. They marry soon thereafter and two children come in quick succession. Stephen’s condition worsens…from one cane to two canes to wheelchair…but he is adamant in wanting their life to be as normal as possible and refuses to get help, saying they can’t afford it and don’t need it. Through it all, Jane somehow manages to take care of him, the two children and their home. Jane’s mother (Emily Watson) realizes that Jane needs something more in her life and suggests she join the church choir. It’s there that Jane meets Jonathan (Charlie Cox), the church choir director. He’s a widower and offers to assist Jane in any way he can. Stephen finally decides that help is needed and approaches Jonathan about becoming his nurse and he accepts. Despite the ALS, Stephen and Jane have one more child. Unfortunately Stephen develops pneumonia and although a tracheostomy saves his life, he loses the ability to speak…a robotic voice replacing his real voice. Jonathan eventually leaves and another nurse—the attractive, light-hearted, Elaine (Maxine Peake), takes his place. With this change, all go on to the next phase of their lives.

“The Theory of Everything” is powerful on so many levels. Director Marsh does a great job in showing us through Eddie Redmayne’s performance the kind of man Hawking was and is, beginning with his early college years. Stephen is brilliant, smart alecky, joyous and very human. Marsh provides small hints of the disease that is about to strike, but when the disease finally hits full throttle, it’s still a shock. The film doesn’t make Stephen out to be a saint…brilliance and ALS aside…he shows him to be a real person. Cinematographer Benoît Delhomme does a wonderful job in shooting the film. Several sequences are shot like old-fashion home movies to show the passage of time in joyous fashion which works just beautifully.

“The Theory of Everything’s” performances are universally terrific—not one false note among them—but three come to the forefront. Charlie Cox, reminding one of a young Colin Firth, is wonderful as Jonathan. His character basically saves Jane’s life and Cox perfectly captures the myriad of feelings he has for Jane and Stephen. As Jane, Felicity Jones is absolutely astounding. Hers is a fabulous performance. She epitomizes Jane’s tenacity and love to the fullest. Jane is just the right match for Stephen and so it is with Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne. One can only hope she’ll be remembered come the awards season. Finally there is Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking. His is the most amazing performance of the 2014 movie year. Words can’t describe how fantastic he is. Physically and emotionally he is Hawking. He manages to find the essence that is Hawking…his joie de vivre in particular. When Hawking succeeds, it feels like we are watching the real Hawking succeed and feel his joy at so doing. Redmayne comes as close as one can in making the audience know what it’s like to have ALS. He never goes over the top. He is just absolutely pitch-perfect. Watching Redmayne is like watching a star, in every sense of the word, being born. He more than deserves every award that comes his way…and one hopes that there are many.

“The Theory of Everything” has everything one can ask of a film—wonderful story powerfully told and fantastic, fabulous acting. It should be on everyone’s must-see list.

4 nuggets out of 4


Les Misérables: I Dreamed I Liked it More—Movie

December 31, 2012

Les mis posterI so wanted to love “Les Misérables.” Musicals are one of my favorite genres. I adore Russell Crowe. I have really enjoyed Hugh Jackman’s singing and dancing in hosting the Tonys and who can forget the duet that he and Anne Hathaway performed when he hosted the Oscars? She can belt it out with the best of them.

But I didn’t love “Les Mis” and that makes me sad. For me, something was missing in director Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables.” It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I think the trouble begins with the two male leads.

Hugh Jackman, as Jean Valjean, the prisoner released on parole who later becomes a respected factory owner, is a good actor and he can sing. But not this score. His voice truly disappoints. He struggles to reach many of the notes and it becomes distracting. As Javert, the police inspector obsessed with finding and re-imprisoning Valjean after he breaks parole, Russell Crowe has a melodic voice. He sings on key and doesn’t embarrass himself. But his part demands someone with a strong, Broadway-type voice and Crowe just doesn’t have it. The scenes between the two work because they are good actors, but in a musical, acting is just half of the job.

Another distraction is the way in which Hooper chooses to display Javert’s obsession with Valjean.  Javert keeps popping up in such weird manners that it almost starts to feel Wile E. Coyote-like. My audience actually started to laugh at one point.

Anne Hathaway, as Fantine, the factory worker who is fired and forced to become a prostitute in order to support her daughter, Cosette, is very strong. Hathaway can act and her voice is well-suited to this role. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the adult Cosette, Amanda Seyfried .  So good in Mama Mia, Seyfried seems to be screeching her songs. She simply cannot reach the notes. Like Jackman and Crowe, her acting is fine, but this role calls for more.

The remaining cast is very good. Eddie Redmayne as Marius, the idealistic young  French rebel and Cosette’s suitor has a beautiful voice. He is terrific, as is Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, Marius’ colleague in-arms.

Is Helena Bonham Carter, as Madame Thénardier, ever bad? She and Sacha Baron Cohen (Thénardier), as the innkeepers who “care” for the young Cosette, provide the pitch –perfect comic relief and work well together, in addition to having voices just right for their roles. Samantha Barks as Éponine, their daughter, who’s in love with Marius is wonderful. Her voice is so beautiful that it makes one wish that she had been cast as Cosette.

Finally we have the adorable Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche, the young mascot to the rebels. He can sing and act…but why does he have a strong Cockney accent in France? I kept waiting for him to ask, “Please sir, may I have some more?”

Much has been made of the fact that the actors are singing live. While that is admirable and helps in some scenes, especially those with Anne Hathaway, I do wonder if that is part of the problem with the weaker singing.

Kudos to cinematographer, Danny Cohen; “Les Misérables” is beautifully shot. Some of the scenes are positively breathtaking. If movies were based on just photography, this film would be a true winner. Unfortunately we have to use senses other than visual and that is the film’s ultimate downfall.

2 3/4 nuggets out of 4

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