I was sick all of last week. It was weird, man - I had a fever and everything. I haven't been that sick since high school!
But today I am (almost entirely) better, so I went with some friends to finally go see The Theory of Everything.
You guys, this movie broke me. In the best possible way. I'm still crying over it - it's been about three and a half hours since the movie ended, and there are tears literally streaming down my face right now as I'm thinking about it.
Now, in all fairness, I should admit that I thought the pacing was weird. There were times when I wasn't sure how much time had just passed, and scenes when it was clear from events that were occurring that years must have passed since the last scene but there was no indication of time having passed. On top of that, all of the drama of the first act relied entirely on the audience already having a knowledge of who Stephen Hawking is, and what his life and history have been like. If someone who was living under a rock somehow came to see this movie, they wouldn't get it for the first half hour or so at all.
But oh my god, the performances.
Unless you've been living under a rock yourself, you've heard about how extraordinary the performances in this film are. And I'm just gonna add to that chorus of people saying it, because they're all right - they are really extraordinary. I'll admit to being highly attracted to both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in the first place, but the fact that they're both beautiful doesn't mean that they weren't also exceptional.
While he was doing the press circuit for this film, I TiVoed as many interviews with Eddie Redmayne as I could in order to hear about his process. I know that he talked with tons of actual ALS patients about what having the disease feels like, I know that he knows the disease inside and out so he knows what it does to a person's muscles, I know that he even worked with a choreographer to get parts of it right. But he transformed himself physically so absolutely that for most of the film, I totally forgot that I wasn't watching a documentary about the actual Stephen Hawking. (And, for the record, Dr. Hawking himself has said similar things about Eddie Redmayne's acting as well!) And while the physicality was very impressive, the thing that made it really work is that he could act the part as well. He was funny and charming as Stephen Hawking, along with being, of course, crazy intelligent, and his journey to come to terms with his illness as it hinders his ability to work and be with his family was heartbreaking but also believable and... really, relatable. I've been very lucky to not have ever had ALS, and never known anyone who has had it either, but I feel like I've known it in some small way through seeing this movie and "knowing" him. He made it so real and so effortless that I couldn't help but absolutely fall in love with him.
But, of course, the thing about the movie that made it really work was that he got to play off of Felicity Jones as the most incredible Jane Hawking. One of the things that I always notice about films with someone with a disease or disability is that so often the films forget the people around the person with the disease. They're just there, quietly supporting and having no life or feelings other than complete support of their own. But The Theory of Everything didn't do that - Jane Hawking is a complete, interesting woman... and as much as I fell in love with Stephen Hawking through Eddie Redmayne, it's Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking that absolutely broke my heart, because I understood her so much. Her journey throughout the film and seeing how she changes as a person and in her feelings and reactions to the things and people around her are so authentic that I kept begging for some movie magic to come in and change everything, even though I knew that it would absolutely cheapen the story if it did. Her lines at the end of the film to Stephen are what made me start absolutely sobbing in the theater, and I'm not even ashamed. The thing I particularly loved about her performance was how perfectly human it was. It came from someone who clearly did love Stephen Hawking, but she's also trying to be her own person and have her own life. Those are things which would've been difficult to do even if Stephen Hawking hadn't had ALS, just by virtue of being the wife of arguably the smartest man in the world. But, of course, with the ALS it just makes everything so much harder. She shows all of those layers of feeling, from loving her husband to hating him for what she has necessarily had to make her life become for him with grace and a naturalness about her to tell the story of the woman who is simultaneously the genius's wife along with the sick guy's wife, who is trying to be more than just his wife. And she plays opposite Eddie Redmayne so perfectly you would think that they had been genuinely married themselves.
Well, I've vomited feelings about how much I loved the performances in this movie all over this blog post, so it's probably about time to wrap it up now, even though I didn't even touch on David Thewlis yet, or Harry Lloyd, or Charlie Cox... if you are interested in my thoughts on them, though (and believe me, I have them!) I am more than happy to discuss them all in the comments below.
I'm also going to go ahead and through a blanket SPOILER ALERT for the entire comments section. I don't know what may or may not come up, but I don't want to be dancing around things that happen, just in case!
And if you haven't seen it yet, you really, really should see The Theory of Everything. You guys. It's just. It is so good.