Warning: This review contains plot spoilers for those that do not know the biography of Steven Hawking.
“Everything” is a big word. In its pristine, unfallen condition, it is a word full of spectacle and wonder. It suggests majesty, mystery, and scope beyond measure. In its pristine condition.
These days “everything” has also come to serve as a lazy synonym for “no one thing in particular.” “What did you like—or not—about the film?” Everything. “What did you not understand about the homework assignment?” Everything. Even, “What do you love about your spouse?” It’s a non-answer, when used that way. And while that usage may not describe Steven Hawking’s theory of everything, it certainly does fit the movie about his life.
The Theory of Everything premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, the September extravaganza that has managed to schedule the film that went on to win Best Picture for as long as I can remember going there. Last year felt like an early showdown between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, and indeed both of those films rode strong festival buzz all the way through an increasingly long awards season.
There does not appear to be a studio favorite this year. The most anticipated films are from a Frenchman (Godard), a Turk (Ceylan), a Swede (Andersson), and a pair of Belgians (Dardennes). Everything’s director, James Marsh, lacks the prestige of any of those auteurs, but he does have a biopic with the sorts of elements—a selfless and loving spouse, great accomplishments in the face of adversity, a handicapable hero—that the Academy generally loves. And he has already won a golden statute ...1