“The Theory of Everything” is adapted from a very thick book that Stephen Hawking’s first wife, Jane Wilde Hawking, wrote about their relationship. The degree to which this film is any good – and the first half is very good – is not due to its source material, however. In fact, that this film succeeds at all is a miracle – if not a miracle on the scale of, say, Mr. Hawking’s accomplishments as a theoretical physicist and author. The truth is: The former Ms. Wilde’s memoir is a slog.
It is surprising that the first feature film biopic about Stephen Hawking focuses on the perspective of his former wife. (There already have been many documentaries about the acclaimed cosmologist as well as the TV movie “Hawking,” which starred smart-boy dreamboat Benedict Cumberbatch.) Based on his television commentary and writings, Mr. Hawking’s charisma and insight would enliven any account of his already-fascinating achievements but his discoveries are not what “The Theory of Everything” addresses. Rather, it hones in on the mind-body split that defines us all: the prosaic confinements of our physicalities (even when we’re not severely disabled) contrasted with the transcendence of our intellect and imagination. There may be no better lens through which to examine this split than marriage, which is a mystery so vast that not even the now-twice-divorced Hawking has been able to crack it. Continue Reading →