The Theory of Everything and Life In Between

How were your three-day weekends, everyone?

Too short, probably.

Has anyone petitioned the White House to make Monday an extension of the weekend yet? ‘Cause that’s the unifying kind of cause our nation needs right now and I am down to champion this.

As I mentioned earlier, I went to see The Theory of Everything on Sunday.

Several of the people I found myself at the movies with didn’t have any context for what we were going to see and only showed up because my friend Katie is excellent at getting people excited for participating in things they don’t know very much about; It’s one of her superpowers.

For those of you who are similarly unfamiliar with this film’s plot, The Theory of Everything tells the life story of highly acclaimed theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Professor Stephen Hawking, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (the same disease millions of people dumped ice buckets on their head to raise awareness for) at the age of 21.

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Sidenote: Stephen Hawking is a guy I’ve committed to learn more about considering the embarrassment that I still get him and Stephen King confused sometimes. Now that would be something, wouldn’t it? A celebrated horror genre author AND cosmologist? That’s the kind of guy you could get stuck at a dinner party next to is all I’m sayin’.

He may not have inspired the horror movies that kept us up at night as children, but Stephen Hawking’s story is still pretty damn remarkable. If you’ve had no interest in seeing this movie up to this point, I’m about to change your mind.

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Being a long-time fan of FOCUS Features (the production company responsible for making The Theory of Everything happen), I knew that I was in for a treat beyond the bucket of popcorn I’d just settled into my seat with. FOCUS has produced several cinematic gems over the years such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (my favorite movie of all time, if you’re takin’ notes), Vanity Fair, Brick, The Motorcycle Diaries, and Atonement. As a company, they invest their resources towards original story-telling ventures and create films that challenge the imagination and celebrate the depths of the human spirit which I am tooootally about.

If you’re patient with the European sensibility this movie was inspired by, you’ll be rewarded by the beautifully unfolding story-telling of director James Marsh who captures the rich chemistry present among the cast members and makes the minutiae of daily life look pretty dreamy. In telling a story as grand as Hawking’s, I appreciate that Marsh captured the many little details that played a part in making it so.

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I won’t talk much about said details because I’m not giving away any spoilers here but I must mention how impressed I was that this movie (surrounding such a charming plot-line, a young couple falling in love in 1960’s London?? *heart eyes) refused to romanticize the reality of living with a degenerative disease, or being the caretaker of someone who is. Jane Hawking, Stephen’s wife, is given a depth of character that I found refreshing and honestly did not expect being that Stephen is the film’s protagonist. Her husband is the one diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) but it is very clear that this diagnosis was on Jane and Stephan’s relationship as well, despite their best efforts to live as though this was not so. Jane commits to being strong on Stephen’s behalf over and over and ultimately, this movie explores how we manage upon reaching the end of ourselves in the face of challenge.

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I dare to wonder what obstacles, both physical and emotional, Stephen would not have been able to overcome without this support. The film poignantly acknowledges the lives surrounding Stephen’s unique one as lives that still had every right to be lived, and fully so – both with his blessing and in spite of it which Stephen’s character in the movie acknowledges.

I would say that this was one of qualities I appreciated the most about it.

The Theory of Everything is self-aware enough to acknowledge that brilliance does not go unmarred by the nuances of human complexity or life’s burdens. It is a beautiful film, celebrating a series of lives lived among trial. You get the sense that Stephen Hawking’s own sentiment is imbued throughout it, urging you to realize that while there is life, there is still hope. And that’s always worth cheering for, wouldn’t you say?

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