Tag Archive: The Theory of Everything


Brooklyn – Movie Review

Every year around this time a few films come out that feel like Oscar-baity period piece dramas. They usually feature great performances, beautiful costumes and brilliant production design, but sometimes their stories and drama fall flat. Last year’s The Theory of Everything was a prime example of this and I initially thought that this year’s Brooklyn might fall into that category as well. Thankfully, Brooklyn is actually a very engaging film with an interesting story and a great character at its center. It plays things pretty safe and it still feels like it’s the kind of film that is only made to attract Oscar voters, but director John Crowley and star Saoirse Ronan allow the film to succeed regardless.

Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is a young woman living in 1950s Ireland who has just received the opportunity to live in America. Unfortunately, this means departing from her family and leaving her sister (Fiona Glascott) to take care of their mother (Jane Brennan). For Eilis, the journey to America starts off rocky; she has to battle seasickness when crossing the ocean and when she finally reaches land, she can’t shake a feeling of homesickness. But this all changes when she meets a charming young Italian man named Tony (Emory Cohen). The two end up falling in love and Eilis begins to accept America as her new home. But when tragedy strikes her family, she forced to head back to Ireland. Now she must choose between two homes that are thousands of miles apart from each other.

It’s ultimately the love story between Eilis and Tony that takes up the majority of the film, so it’s a good thing that we’re able to connect with both of the characters. In fact, it’s Ronan’s beautiful performance that’s able to keep the audience engaged, even when the film dips into familiar territory. This romance offers nothing particularly new or surprising, but it’s sweetly told by screenwriter Nick Hornby. Eilis and Tony don’t rush into a relationship with each other and it’s nice to see the two of them slowly fall in love. Their first encounter, a trip to Coney Island and Eilis meeting Tony’s family for the first time are all nice moments within the film that never grow stale.

While Brooklyn never really portrays the difficulties that I’m sure many immigrants had to go through, that hardly matters because this is a story about love and accepting a foreign place as your new home. The first hour of the film is relatively conflict-free and it’s only in Eilis’ trip back to Ireland that the real drama arises. While the overall story of the film may not sound particularly exciting, Eilis is an easy character to fall in love with; we care about the story because we care about her. It may be a period-piece love story, but Brooklyn is certainly better than most Oscar-baity dramas.

Brooklyn receives 3/4

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My Oscars 2015

The 87th Academy Awards are taking place this Sunday and it’s easily the biggest night of the year that Hollywood has to offer. Some great talent is sure to be honored, but I’m also sure that the Academy will fail to honor some of the more worthy individuals. Since I am not a member of the Academy and can’t actually choose who gets to take home the gold on Sunday, I decided to create my own awards. They may not be quite as prestigious as the Oscars, but maybe some of this year’s nominees will appreciate the praise that I’m giving them. Agree with my choices? What categories would you do differently? Let me know in the comments below!

Best Director

Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

David Fincher – Gone Girl

Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher

Denis Villeneuve – Enemy

Best Actor

Steve Carell – Foxcatcher

Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler

Tom Hardy – Locke

Michael Keaton – Birdman

Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Best Actress

Scarlett Johannson – Under the Skin

Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything

Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon – Wild

Shailene Woodley – The Fault in our Stars

Best Supporting Actor

Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler

Ethan Hawke – Boyhood

Edward Norton – Birdman

Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Carrie Coon – Gone Girl

Rene Russo – Nightcrawler

Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer

Naomi Watts – Birdman

Best Original Screenplay

Calvary – John Michael McDonagh

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness

Locke – Steven Knight

Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Best Adapted Screenplay

Enemy – Javier Gullón

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson

Under the Skin – Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer

Wild – Nick Hornby

Best Cinematography

Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

Enemy – Nicolas Bolduc

Foxcatcher – Greig Fraser

Gone Girl – Jeff Cronenweth

Interstellar – Hoyte Van Hoytema

Best Original Score

Enemy – Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans

Godzilla – Alexandre Desplat

Gone Girl – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Interstellar – Hans Zimmer

The Theory of Everything – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Best Original Song

“Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie

“Glory” from Selma

“I’ll get you what you Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)” from Muppets Most Wanted

“Split the Difference” from Boyhood

“Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

 

Best Editing

Boyhood – Sandra Adair

Gone Girl – Kirk Baxter

Interstellar – Lee Smith

The Raid 2 – Gareth Evans

Whiplash – Tom Cross

Best Production Design

Exodus: Gods and Kings – Arthur Max

Foxcatcher – Jess Gonchor

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen

Interstellar – Nathan Crowley

Snowpiercer – Ondrej Nekvasil

Best Sound

The Babadook – Frank Lipson

Edge of Tomorrow – James Boyle and Dominic Gibbs

Fury – Paul N.J. Ottosson

Godzilla – Erik Aadahl, David Alvarez and Ethan Van der Ryn

Interstellar – Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten and Richard King

Best Visual Effects

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Edge of Tomorrow

Godzilla

Guardians of the Galaxy

Interstellar

There’s no denying that Stephen Hawking is an incredible individual. His work in the scientific community has been groundbreaking and his ability to overcome ALS is inspiring. So it’s a shame that The Theory of Everything reduces his incredible life and achievements into such a simple, surface level biopic. As Stephen and Jane Hawking, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones give the movie their all and deliver two very good performances. But, sadly, the script by Anthony McCarten isn’t nearly as revelatory and James Marsh’s direction occasionally makes this feel like a sappy made-for-TV movie. You hardly feel like you get to know the Hawkings and that’s one of the worst things that you can say about a film that covers their lives.

We’re introduced to Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) as a student at Cambridge University. He first meets a young woman named Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) at a party and the two instantly hit it off. He invites her to be his date at a prestigious dance and the two quickly fall in love. But after suffering from a fall, Stephen learns that he has been diagnosed with ALS, a disease that affects the muscles. He’s given no more than two years to live, but he and Jane decide that they want to enjoy the time that they have together. They get married and eventually have several kids, all while Stephen’s condition worsens. Eventually they seek the help of Jonathan Jones (Charlie Cox), the choir director at Jane’s church. He begins spending a lot of time with the family and he forms a very close connection with Jane.

You may have noticed that the description above doesn’t even mention any of Hawking’s discoveries in the scientific community and that’s because the film barely touches on the subject. Other than a few scenes that have Stephen discuss his theories with professors and a scene towards the end where he delivers a lecture, the film offers barely any insight into what actually makes him a relevant figure in the scientific community. When one character remarks halfway through the film that Stephen is now famous throughout the world, it’s hard to believe it because hardly any screentime is devoted to his findings and why they matter in the scientific community. Instead, the filmmakers have decided to focus on the relationship between Stephen and Jane and the disease that made their lives so difficult. In this regard, the film has its share of hits and misses. It’s an undeniably moving tale, particularly in the early stages when they first meet. But as the film lumbers on through a runtime that seems to take forever, things become way too schmaltzy and there are a number of eye-rollingly corny moments.

Even with the weak material, Eddie Redmayne has never been better. He completely disappears into the role and successfully plays a victim of ALS without ever overdoing things. He’s particularly charming in his early scenes, which only makes his bodies degradation all the more tragic. We watch as he gradually loses the ability to walk, followed by the ability to speak and finally the ability to move at all. Redmayne portrays his character in a moving, sympathetic and uplifting fashion; his performance alone tells us more about this famed physicist than the weak screenplay even attempts to. While not quite as powerful as Redmayne’s performance, Felicity Jones is still nothing short of fantastic. She’s a radiant beauty that lights up the screen, while also managing to convey all of the struggles that her character is forced to contend with. Some of Jane’s choices towards the end of the film seemingly are decided out of nowhere and some viewers may fault her for this, but Jones helps us to understand her character’s decisions in a way that the screenplay does not.

Since the film is based on the book Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking it’s not surprising that there’s a heavy focus on their relationship. Still, after having watched Stephen and Jane interact for over two hours, I feel like I didn’t learn anything about Stephen’s scientific endeavors that I didn’t already know. The score by Jóhann Jóhannsson is quite good and the film’s final five minutes are unique and emotionally stirring, an incredible end to a very mediocre biopic, but it’s too little, too late. If The Theory of Everything didn’t feature two of the year’s best performances, it would have been much closer to being a disaster.

The Theory of Everything receives 2/4