The Toronto Film Festival often provides a sneak peek at the films and thespians who will be frontrunners in the Oscar race, and with the Toronto debut of the Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything,” attention is being paid to the performances of “Les Miserables” actor Eddie Redmayne as Hawking and Felicity Jones of “The Invisible Woman” as his wife, Jane, in the film.
In addition to Redmayne and Jones, the movie stars “The Book Thief” actress Emily Watson, David Thewlis of “War Horse,” and “Game of Thrones” actor Harry Lloyd.
“Theory” itself has received mainly positive reviews so far. Some critics like Catherine Shoard of the Guardian liked the film, with Shoard writing that the movie is “a film of scrupulous ethics and fresh-scrubbed compassion … Redmayne towers: this is an astonishing, genuinely visceral performance which bears comparison with Daniel Day-Lewis in 'My Left Foot' … It manages that rare thing in any movie, least of all a well-upholstered biopic, and that is a realistic relationship, with grace notes, and a bedrock of respect and affection. Jones makes for a formidable opposite number; she's a consistently brilliant actor who needs a breakthrough … Though Redmayne will deservedly hoover up a great swagbag of awards, Jones shouldn't go home empty-handed.”
Variety writer Justin Chang was also won over by the movie, writing that it’s “a sensitively directed inspirational biopic… [it’s] a stirring and bittersweet love story, inflected with tasteful good humor … [there are] superb performances from Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.”
And some who didn’t like certain aspects of the movie still praised Redmayne and Jones, with Leslie Felperin of the Hollywood Reporter writing that “if the syrupy lows are blessedly few and far between, the highs are not much more frequent. As such, it’s something of a disappointment for fans of [director] James Marsh… Facing the physical challenges of depicting Hawking’s disability, Redmayne pulls it off with enormous grace and endurance, and it’s not just the assist from prosthetic teeth and ears that helps him create an impeccable mimicry of the real man. Jones almost has the harder part in a way … and she holds her own well, although the aging makeup and costumes are less persuasive.”
Steve Pond of TheWrap agreed.
“Sure, it's sentimental at times in its approach to the the long relationship between the brilliant physicist and his wife Jane … There's no real suspense in his fight for survival or his struggle to continue to communicate his ground-breaking scientific theories,” he wrote, calling part of the ending "too-mawkish." “So instead the movie tells us how it happened, anchored by rich and resounding performances by Redmayne and Jones. The former seems to be a guaranteed Best Actor nominee, but Jones shouldn't be overlooked either.”
“Everything” will be released in the US on Nov. 7.