DRAMA; 2hr 3min
STARRING: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones
Horsing around: Redmayne and Jones
In 1963, Cambridge poetry student Jane Wilde (Jones) and gawky cosmology genius Stephen Hawking (Redmayne) launch giddily into a relationship that will span 30 years and a raft of unimaginable permutations in this adulatory biopic. Stephen’s laser-beam brilliance is being eaten by motor neurone disease, which paralyses every part of him but his extraordinary mind. When diagnosed, he’s given two years to live. Jane marries him anyway.
The world knows of theoretical physicist and A Brief History of Time author Hawking and his ongoing quest for “one simple, elegant equation” that will explain every aspect of the universe. Man on Wire director James Marsh and screenwriter Anthony McCarten’s view of him (working from Jane Hawking’s 2008 memoir) is predictably respectful, which is paradoxically both as it should be and not cut out for riveting, insightful viewing. Yet what a smashing, unassailable, Hawking-lookalike Redmayne and a solicitous Jones bring to the couple’s pre-divorce history is a crucial keyhole into its humanness. There’s no inkling of self pity in Redmayne’s scrupulous portrayal; even so, his Hawking behind closed doors is a masterclass in the frustration of entrapment.