The life of the extraordinary scientist Stephen Hawking could easily lend itself to half a dozen autobiographical stories, such is the breadth and depth of his achievements. Most of these might understandably focus on his scientific work, which has been hugely influential in the sphere of theoretical physics and cosmology, but this particular film (skilfully adapted from his first wife’s memoir by Anthony McCarten) chooses to look at the more human element of the relationship between him and Jane Wilde, charting the success of his academic work with his personal life and utterly inspirational handling of a life-threatening and physically crippling disease.

His life story is quite remarkable, and the essential hook of the film is how it ties the journey he undertakes with Jane into his theories and musings on the nature of time, the universe and our place in it. This underscores what would otherwise be a fairly cloying and sentimental biopic-by-numbers with a fascinating existential subtext. This is helped along by a transformative, genuinely brilliant performance from Eddie Redmayne, one of those extraordinary feats of utterly inhabiting a very challenging role that you can do nothing but applaud. Receiving less plaudits but equally impressive is the work done here by Felicity Jones, whose less showy role is nonetheless fleshed out with emotive humanity. They both elevate a conventionally-structured film into something very moving and occasionally profound.

The life of Stephen Hawking as subject material9
The execution of a formulaic biographical story6
A clever thematic mixture in Anthony McCarten's script between physics and love9
Eddie Redmayne's transcendent performance9
Felicity Jones being less obviously, but equally, impressive9
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel Test Failures
  • n/a
8Overall Score

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