Now showing at City Screen Picturehouse 13-17,Coney Street,York,Yorkshire YO1 9QL email@example.com 0871 902 5726
- Blackhat (Parent And Baby Screening)
- Fifty Shades Of Grey
- National Gallery
- RSC Live Encore Screening: Love's Labour's Lost
- RSC Live: Love's Labour's Won
- Shaun The Sheep Movie
- The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
- The Theory Of Everything
Birdman 5 stars
Riggan Thomson rose to fame playing a superhero called Birdman in three blockbuster films in the 1990s. Twenty years later, his career is stagnant and he is determined to establish himself as a serious artist by directing, writing and starring in a Broadway staging of Raymond Carver's short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. As opening night approaches, petty squabbles between Riggan and his cast - including Broadway star Mike Shiner - threaten to derail the vanity project.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Indie, Romance
- CastMichael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough.
- DirectorAlejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
- WriterAlejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo.
- Duration119 mins
- Official sitewww.birdmanthemovie.com
- Release26/12/2014 (selected London cinemas); 01/01/2015 (nationwide)
According to Konstantin Stanislavski and Lee Strasberg, two founding fathers of method acting, the best performers possess the rare ability to channel deeply personal recollections and emotions through their characters. These actors don't just play a role as written, they share every breath and straining sinew with their alter ego.
In Birdman, Michael Keaton inhabits the role of a middle-aged Hollywood star, whose glory days as a big screen superhero are long behind him. It's the role of a lifetime for Keaton - the role of his lifetime, no less, nodding and winking to his two stints behind Batman's cowl under director Tim Burton in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Art and real life playfully blur in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's technically dazzling comedy, which was shot on location in New York. In one of the film's bravura handheld sequences, Keaton strides purposefully through crowded, neon-lit Times Square in just his underpants as tourists clamour with their mobile devices. Literally and figuratively, he bares his soul.
Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who deservedly won an Oscar for sci-fi thriller Gravity, meticulously splice together each interlude to resemble a single, unbroken 119-minute shot.
If you look closely, you can see the joins but, as a feat of split-second timing, balletic choreography and directorial brio, Birdman is jaw-dropping - right down to the moment the camera casually pans to a drummer on the street playing the same beats and rolls of Antonio Sanchez's improvised jazz score.
Riggan Thomson (Keaton) rose to fame playing a superhero called Birdman in three blockbuster films. Twenty years later, he masterminds a comeback with nervy producer Jake (Zach Galifianakis) by directing, writing and starring in a Broadway production of Raymond Carver's short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.
As opening night approaches and revered critics including Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) prepare to deliver their waspish verdict, petty squabbles between Riggan and his cast - popular Broadway star Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), leading lady Lesley (Naomi Watts) and current squeeze Laura (Andrea Riseborough) - threaten to derail the vanity project.
The leading man struggles to keep personal demons at bay, exacerbated by fractious exchanges with his spirited daughter Sam (Emma Stone).
Accompanied by a rambling voiceover from Riggan that reflects the character's mental unravelling, Birdman is a wickedly funny satire of a world of overinflated egos and barely concealed vices.
Performances are uniformly excellent, from Keaton's career-revitalising turn to Stone's fearless portrayal of a recovering drug addict and Norton's hilarious embodiment of an artist, who believes that, "popularity is just the slutty little cousin of prestige".
Peppered with affectionate verbal barbs aimed at Hollywood's current glitterati, Inarritu's picture is crammed to bursting with self-referential treats that demand a second and third viewing. Birdman is the post-Christmas gift that keep on giving.
Blackhat (Parent And Baby Screening) 3 stars
In the wake of a crippling hacking assault on a Hong Kong nuclear plant and Chicago's Mercantile Trade Exchange, Chinese military officer Captain Chen Dawai discovers part of the code used to illegally access the two sites was written by him and his MIT college roommate, Nicholas Hathaway, who is currently behind prison bars. The Chinese contact FBI Special Agent Carol Barrett and she offers Hathaway a deal: early release from his cell in exchange for his expertise to unmask the hacker.
- GenreAction, Drama, Thriller
- CastHolt McCallany, Chris Hemsworth, Wei Tang, Leehom Wang, Viola Davis.
- DirectorMichael Mann.
- WriterMorgan Davis Foehl.
- Duration133 mins
- Official sitewww.blackhatmovie.co.uk
Following the attack on the computer systems of Sony Pictures in November 2014 and subsequent leak of emails, the insidious threat posed by cyber criminals is fresh in everyone's mind. Director Michael Mann's polished yet soulless action thriller is perfectly timed to tap into this mood of pixellated paranoia, convening a global task force to unmask a madman, who wreaks havoc from his computer keyboard.
Aided by digital trickery, Mann visualises the hack attack as a quick zoom into a computer monitor, careening along wires and circuitry as the flickering white pixels of incoming malware pollutes a blue sea of good coding. The sequence is so neat and effective, the four times Oscar-nominated filmmaker uses it twice.
While the film's hardware - direction, cinematography, action sequences - is robust, the software - characterisation, interpersonal relationships, dialogue - desperately needs an upgrade.
The central romance between Thor hunk Chris Hemsworth and pretty Chinese actress Tang Wei catalyses by clumsy dramatic necessity because she's the only woman in the film, in fact the whole of Asia, who wouldn't pass for his mother. We don't believe their heartfelt declarations for a second.
An elusive mastermind (Yorick van Wageningen) causes an explosion at a Hong Kong nuclear plant and tampers with the price of soy prices on Chicago's Mercantile Trade Exchange using a Remote Access Tool (RAT), which gains access to computer systems and allows his malware to run amok.
Chinese military officer Captain Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) joins forces with his sister Lien (Wei), a gifted network engineer, to unmask the culprit. It transpires that part of the RAT's coding was written years ago by Dawai and his university roommate Nicholas Hathaway (Hemsworth), who is behind prison bars for computer crime.
The Chinese align with FBI Special Agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) and she promises Hathaway a commuted sentence if he apprehends the hacker. The subsequent hunt takes Nicholas, Chen, Lien, Barrett and FBI colleague Mark Jessup (Holt McCallany) around the world, following a trail of clues that could lead them into the gun sights of the hacker's sadistic associate, assassin Elias Kassar (Ritchie Coster).
Taking its title from a hacker, who invades systems for personal gain, Blackhat struggles to compute a gripping thriller from invisible 21st-century warfare.
Hemsworth appears to have strutted straight off the set of The Avengers, sporting a ridiculously perfect physique for someone who is now consigned to a prison cell and denied excellent nutrition and access to a gym. Wei is a non-descript love interest while Davis has only one decent scene of feisty banter to justify her heavyweight casting.
Mann's camera is fixated on the twinkling lights of city locations that provide a pristine backdrop to co-operation between Chinese and American governments. East meets west but his film goes south.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Wednesday 4th March 2015
Fifty Shades Of Grey 3 stars
As a favour to her roommate Kate, literature student Anastasia Steele interviews handsome and charming multimillionaire businessman Christian Grey. Anastasia is bewitched by Christian and makes clear her desire for him. In order to get closer to the object of her amorous affections, the student submits to Christian and he introduces her to an erotically charged world of submission, domination, lust and temptation.
- GenreAdaptation, Romance, Thriller
- CastDakota Johnson, Jennifer Ehle, Jamie Dornan, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden.
- DirectorSam Taylor-Johnson.
- WriterKelly Marcel.
- Duration125 mins
- Official sitewww.fiftyshadesmovie.com
With its simplistic storyline about a naive heroine drawn to a dark, brooding hunk, who conceals monstrous desires, Fifty Shades Of Grey is Twilight with riding crops and plush furnishings. Sam Taylor-Johnson's flaccid film version of the EL James literary sensation preaches to the perverted in soft-core whimpers and sighs. Editor Lisa Gunning gently caresses each glossy sequence of writhing appendages to the strains of Danny Elfman's score or a soaring ballad from Annie Lennox and Sia. "Got me looking so crazy in love," purrs Beyonce beneath the picture's first impeccably lit montage of gym-toned flesh on flesh. Sadly the carnal abandon in her lyrics fails to translate as lustful hanky-spanky on the big screen. The plot is handcuffed tightly to the book. As a favour to her flu-riddled roommate Kate (Eloise Mumford), English Literature student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) interviews handsome billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for an article in the university newspaper. Anastasia is intoxicated but Christian initially pushes her away. "I'm not the man for you. You have to steer clear of me," he whispers. Irresistibly drawn to the businessman, Anastasia agrees to a date and Christian spirits her away to his red room festooned with S&M toys via a flight on his private helicopter. As she takes her first ride on his chopper to the throb of Ellie Goulding's chart-topping hit Love Me Like You Do, Taylor-Johnson's film reduces to an orgy of product placements and glossy fantasies that wouldn't look too shabby as TV commercials for luxury cars, designer fragrances or crumbly, flaky confectionery. Only in Taylor-Johnson's film, the beautiful heroine, who bites her lower lip as lazy shorthand for anticipatory sexual pleasure, wants to unwrap Dornan's sculpted torso rather than a glistening slab of milk chocolate. "I'm incapable of letting you go," confides Christian as he introduces wide-eyed Anastasia to his secret world of domination and submission, which didn't get UK censors hot under the collar, passing the film uncut. Nor me. I was more aroused by the immaculate shine on Christian's piano than anything in his boudoir of bondage: a set designer must have spent hours buffing those ivories. When Dornan and Johnson are fully clothed and enjoying comical scenes of flirtation, they kindle smouldering screen chemistry. As soon as one of them disrobes, those embers are extinguished. Kelly Marcel's script fails to flesh out the protagonists: Christian remains an enigma and Dornan gamely keeps a straight face as he barks lines like, "If you were mine, you wouldn't be able to sit down for a week." The usual sexual inequality about on-screen nudity applies. While Johnson is depicted full frontal, Dornan's johnson remains artfully hidden by his co-star's creamy thighs or high thread-count bed sheets. In an early scene, Ana's roommate excitedly demands the lowdown on Christian and the heroine coolly responds that he was nice, courteous and clean. That's a fair summation of the film: two hours of polite, functional, beautifully shot foreplay that fails to locate the G-spot.
Ida 3 stars
Eighteen-year-old orphan Anna has been raised in a convent in 1960s Poland and she has devoted her life to the Lord under the watchful gaze of the Mother Superior. As Anna prepares to become a nun, Mother Superior insists that the young woman reconnect with her past by visiting her sole living relative. So Anna abandons the safety of the convent and travels to meet her aunt Wanda, who discloses that Anna's real name is Ida and her Jewish parents were murdered during the Nazi occupation.
- GenreDrama, Romance, World
- CastJoanna Kulig, Agata Trzebuchowska, Halina Skoczynska.
- DirectorPawel Pawlikowski.
- WriterPawel Pawlikowski, Rebecca Lenkiewicz.
- Duration82 mins
- Official sitewww.ida-movie.com
- Release26/09/2014 (selected cinemas)
Polish-born British director Pawel Pawlikowski, who won a BAFTA for My Summer Of Love, films in his homeland for the first time in this emotional 1960s-set drama. Eighteen-year-old orphan Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) has been raised in a convent and she has devoted her life to the Lord under the watchful gaze of the Mother Superior (Halina Skoczynska). As Anna prepares to become a nun, Mother Superior insists that the young woman reconnect with her past by visiting her sole living relative. So Anna abandons the safety of the convent and travels to meet her aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), a cynical Communist Party insider, who discloses that Anna's real name is Ida and her Jewish parents were murdered during the Nazi occupation. This revelation devastates Anna and she embarks on a heart-wrenching journey back to her family's house in the countryside to unlock the secrets of her tragic past.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 5th March 2015
National Gallery 3 stars
Located in Trafalgar Square in London, The National Gallery is one of the jewels of the UK's cultural heritage, housing one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world. This documentary witnesses day-to-day life in front of and behind the scenes. Shot in 2012, the film juxtaposes tours of wide-eyed children with animated discussions about the perils of art restoration and debates in the boardroom about the omnipresent threat of spending cuts.
- GenreDocumentary, Indie
- DirectorFrederick Wiseman.
- WriterFrederick Wiseman.
- Duration181 mins
- Official site
- Release09/01/2015 (selected cinemas)
Located in Trafalgar Square in London, The National Gallery is one of the jewels of the UK's cultural heritage, housing one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world. Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman evidently shares this admiration because in this exhaustive film, which runs a smidgen over three hours, his cameras are granted unprecedented access to the gallery to witness day-to-day life in front of and behind the scenes. Shot in 2012, when the gallery was wooing visitors with major exhibitions including Turner Inspired: In the Light Of Claude and Metamorphosis: Titian, the film juxtaposes tours of wide-eyed children with animated discussions about the perils of art restoration and debates in the boardroom about the omnipresent threat of spending cuts. Eschewing interviews with his subjects in favour of a less intrusive fly-on-the-wall style, National Gallery shines a light on the trials and tribulations that face the institution both now and in the future.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Tuesday 3rd March 2015
RSC Live Encore Screening: Love's Labour's Lost 3 stars
Christopher Luscombe directs William Shakespeare's sparkling comedy in Stratford-upon-Avon, resetting to the trials and tribulations of the heart to just before the outbreak of the First World War, featuring David Horovitch as Holofernes, John Hodgkinson as Don Armado and Sam Alexander as the King of Navarre.
- GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Romance
- CastSam Alexander, William Belchambers, Tunji Kasim, Edward Bennett.
- DirectorChristopher Luscombe.
- WriterWilliam Shakespeare.
- Duration135 mins
- Official siteonscreen.rsc.org.uk/loves-labours-lost/
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Wednesday 4th March 2015
RSC Live: Love's Labour's Won 3 stars
Benedick and Claudio return from the trenches weary with the world, and find themselves reacquainted with Beatrice and Hero in Shakespeare's comic romance, which has been reset to the autumn of 1918. Christopher Luscombe's production is broadcast live from Stratford-upon-Avon with Edward Bennett as Benedick and Michelle Terry as his sparring partner Beatrice.
- GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Romance, Special
- CastMichelle Terry, Tunji Kasim, Flora Spencer-Longhurst, Edward Bennett.
- DirectorChristopher Luscombe.
- WriterWilliam Shakespeare.
- Duration140 mins
- Official siteonscreen.rsc.org.uk/loves-labours-won/
- Release04/03/2014 (selected cinemas)
Selma 4 stars
In 1960s America, political bureaucracy and prejudice deny the African-American electorate the chance to vote. Martin Luther King entreats the President to right this democratic wrong but Lyndon Johnson and his adviser Lee C White don't consider voting rights to be high on their list of priorities. So King and his team head to the community of Selma, Alabama to lead a peaceful protest march with their friends from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
- GenreDrama, Historical/Period
- CastCarmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey, Giovanni Ribisi.
- DirectorAva DuVernay.
- WriterPaul Webb.
- Duration128 mins
- Official sitewww.selmamovie.com
More than 45 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, director Ava DuVernay honours the memory of the leader of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement with this impassioned biopic. While there are lingering doubts about the historical accuracy of Selma, the emotional wallop the film delivers is beyond question.
In particular, the recreation of the iconic march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge chills the blood. Oxford-born actor David Oyelowo delivers a breakout performance replete with Georgia accent as the activist. He is mesmerising and would surely have been in Oscar contention as Best Actor later this month had Paul Webb's script gifted him a few more barnstorming speeches.
DuVernay opens with a chilling act of violence that exemplifies racial tensions of the era. In 1960s America, political bureaucracy and prejudice deny the African-American electorate the chance to vote in the forthcoming election in which President Lyndon B Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) hopes to be returned to the White House by the people.
Martin Luther King Jr (Oyelowo) entreats the President to right this democratic wrong but Johnson and his adviser Lee C White (Giovanni Ribisi) don't consider voting rights to be high on their list of priorities.
So King and his team head to the community of Selma, Alabama to lead a peaceful protest march with their friends from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The President seeks a private audience with J Edgar Hoover (Dylan Baker), the first Director of the FBI, to discuss how to remove this thorn from his side.
"We can weaken the dynamic, dismantle the family," explains Hoover, referring to tensions between King and his wife Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo). In Selma, local police under the jurisdiction of Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth) attack protesters with batons as TV cameras capture the brutality for horrified viewers.
Consequently, pressure grows on Johnson to intervene while King takes temporary leave of his wife and family to spearhead a second march.
Selma skilfully ebbs and flows between events in Alabama and Washington, relentlessly cranking up the tension between figures on both sides of the debate. Oyelowo is supported by a terrific ensemble cast including Ejogo as the dutiful wife, who stands by her man despite his dalliances away from home. "Do you love me?" coolly asks Coretta in one of the film's most memorable scenes. "Do you love the others?"
Roth chews scenery as the Governor who believes resistance should be met with extreme force, while Wilkinson brings a touch of desperation to the most powerful man on Capitol Hill. Luther King Jr had a dream and through the lens of DuVernay's film, we are minded that we must all continue to chase it.
Shaun The Sheep Movie 4 stars
Shaun and the flock grow tired of the daily routine on Mossy Bottom Farm under the watchful eye of Bitzer the sheepdog. So the herd hoodwinks the Farmer into taking a well deserved day. Unfortunately, the cunning plan goes awry and the Farmer ends up in the Big City suffering from a nasty bout of memory loss. Shaun and his fleecy friends head for the metropolis to bring the Farmer back home but they attract the attentions of a nasty animal containment officer called Trumper.
- GenreAction, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Children, Children's, Comedy, Family, Family
- CastJohn Sparkes, Justin Fletcher.
- DirectorRichard Starzack, Mark Burton.
- WriterRichard Starzack, Richard Goleszowski, Mark Burton.
- Duration85 mins
- Official sitewww.shaunthesheep.com
Bristol-based Aardman Studios works its stop-motion animated magic on a colourful big screen adventure for the mischievous sheep, who first appeared in Wallace and Gromit's 1995 escapade A Close Shave and has been baad to the bone in a self-titled CBBC series since 2007.
Drawing loving inspiration from other Aardman films including Chicken Run, Shaun The Sheep Movie is a shear delight, melding slapstick and subtler humour to appeal to young fans and their wranglers.
Directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzack shepherd this boisterous romp through various twists and turns at a breathless pace. They litter the screen with wry visual gags, including an airborne cow clearing the roof of the Over The Moon public house.
Stop-motion visuals burst with colour and action sequences are orchestrated with mind-boggling technical precision. As usual, Shaun is at the centre of the madcap action. The flock grows tired of the daily routine on Mossy Bottom Farm under the watchful eye of Bitzer the sheepdog.
So the animals hoodwink the Farmer into taking a well-deserved day off so they can do the same. Unfortunately, this cunning plan goes awry and the Farmer ends up with a nasty bout of memory loss after a high-speed journey to The Big City inside a runaway caravan.
Off the hoof, Shaun and his fleecy friends board the 62 bus from Mossy Bottom to the metropolis, determined to bring their beloved master back home. Unfortunately, they attract the attention of a nasty animal containment officer called Trumper, who doesn't want any farmyard escapees on the lamb on his patch.
Aided by an orphan dog named Slip, the sheep disguise themselves as humans to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting residents of The Big City and track down the Farmer.
In human form, the sheep enjoy haute cuisine at a bistro called Le Chou Brule, while the Farmer discovers a new calling with hair clippers at an upscale boutique. Back at Mossy Bottom, The Naughty Pigs run amok in the farmhouse, oblivious to the hare-brained antics of the other four-legged residents.
Shaun The Sheep Movie will have families flocking in droves to local cinemas. There's nothing woolly about Burton and Starzack's screenplay, which doesn't pause to bleat between set pieces, propelling the narrative forward without sacrificing the characterisation.
There are some lovely interludes here like Shaun's temporary incarceration in an animal shelter, which also houses a psychotic cat from the same litter as Hannibal Lecter and a dog with BARK and BITE tattooed on its knuckles.
As with other Aardman offerings, the animators' imprints are occasionally visible in the expressive clay protagonists, which is part of the film's undeniable charm. Ewe won't be disappointed.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 4 stars
Sonny and his business partner Muriel consider expanding into a second hotel to cope with demand, aided by Douglas and Evelyn. The arrival of an American writer called Guy sends Madge into a swoon while Sonny has lots to keep him occupied with his impending nuptials to the beautiful Sunaina. Douglas and Evelyn's romance continues to develop but the course of true love, even in twilight years, never runs smooth.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
- CastRichard Gere, Bill Nighy, Dame Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Tamsin Greig, Penelope Wilton, Dev Patel, Tena Desae, Dame Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Lillete Dubey.
- DirectorJohn Madden.
- WriterOl Parker.
- Duration122 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/marigoldhotel
Towards the end of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a secret inspector is asked for an honest assessment of Jaipur's luxury development for residents in their golden years. The inspector concludes that behind the scenes, management of the hotel is shambolic but unerring affection for the staff makes it a four-star destination for "the elderly and beautiful".
The same honest appraisal applies to John Madden's entertaining sequel: Ol Parker's script is haphazard and several plot strands are flimsy but our emotional investment in the characters papers over the cracks.
Audiences who check in to this second chapter will be treated to the same pungent Jaipur backdrops and good-humoured service, with a fresh lick of dramatic paint courtesy of new arrivals, played with easy-going charm by Tamsin Greig and Richard Gere.
The dashing star of American Gigolo and Pretty Woman takes on sex symbol status here, causing groom-to-be Sonny (Dev Patel) to quip, "The man is so handsome, he has me urgently questioning my own sexuality." At 65 years old, Gere evidently still has it.
While the first film was lovingly adapted from Deborah Moggach's novel These Foolish Things, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel tumbles straight out of the scriptwriter Parker's imagination. He struggles to provide each resident with a compelling narrative arc: some are surplus to requirements while others relish the trials and tribulations that test fledgling romances and fractious friendships to breaking point.
Sonny and business partner Muriel (Maggie Smith) travel abroad to seek investment for a second hotel from business chief Ty Burley (David Strathairn) and return to India, mindful that funding is dependent on a review from a secret inspector.
"How was America?" asks Evelyn (Judi Dench), welcoming them home.
"It made death more tempting," retorts Muriel.
English traveller Lavinia (Greig) and American novelist Guy (Gere) arrive soon after and Sonny is convinced that Guy must be the inspector so he ignores Lavinia and lavishes attention on the writer. Guy's arrival sends Madge (Celia Imrie) into a swoon - "Lordy lord, have mercy on my ovaries!" she swoons - while Douglas (Bill Nighy) struggles to communicate his feelings to Evelyn.
Meanwhile, Sonny is pre-occupied with his impending nuptials to Sunaina (Tina Desai) and a simmering rivalry for his fiancee's affections from snake-hipped family friend Kush (Shazad Latif).
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel delivers the same winning formula of laughter and tears, eliciting strong performances from Dench, Nighy and Smith at her acid-tongued, indomitable best.
The course of true love, even in twilight years, never runs smooth and Parker composes variations on a theme of amour, while peppering his script with pithy one-liners. "There is no present like the time," professes one wise soul. Madden's film is certainly a gift: you get everything you expect but nothing more.
The Theory Of Everything 4 stars
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking falls head over heels in love with English literature student Jane Wilde at 1960s Cambridge University. Their fledgling romance is tested by his diagnosis with motor neurone disease. Stephen's parents Frank and Isobel try to warn Jane off their son, fearful of emotional devastation that will be wrought if he dies within the two years predicted by doctors. However, she defies everyone, determined to love Stephen for as long as they are together.
- GenreAdaptation, Biography, Drama, Romance
- CastEddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, Simon McBurney, David Thewlis.
- DirectorJames Marsh.
- WriterAnthony McCarten.
- Duration123 mins
- Official site
In Scottish novelist JM Barrie's most beloved work, Peter Pan famously contemplates his mortality on Marooner's Rock and observes, "To die will be an awfully big adventure". For more than half a century since he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has - happily - pushed aside his awfully big adventure and astounded the medical community.
Defying the short life expectancy associated with the rare condition, he has married twice, raised a family and altered our narrow perception of the universe including the publication of his worldwide bestseller, A Brief History Of Time.
As Hawking remarked at a press conference in 2006, "However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there's life, there is hope." Those inspirational words are repeated verbatim in The Theory Of Everything.
Based on the memoir Travelling To Infinity by Jane Wilde Hawking, James Marsh's deeply moving drama charts the romance of Stephen (Eddie Redmayne) and first wife Jane (Felicity Jones) from fleeting glances at a party at mid-1960s Cambridge University through their subsequent battle against MND.
Stephen's parents Frank (Simon McBurney) and Isobel (Abigail Cruttenden) initially warn Jane off their son, fearful of the emotional devastation that will be wrought if he dies within the two years predicted by doctors. "It's not going to be a fight, Jane. It's going to be a very heavy defeat, for all of us," laments Frank.
Love must find a way and Jane defies everyone, even a pessimistic Stephen, to stand beside her soul mate. "I want us to be together, for as long as we've got," she tells him. "If that's not very long then - well, that's just how it is."
Her resolve inspires Stephen to continue his search for "one single elegant equation to explain everything". Aided by choirmaster Jonathan Jones (Charlie Cox) and carer Elaine Mason (Maxine Peake), Jane raises the couple's three children and holds their marriage together.
The Theory Of Everything is anchored by two of the year's best performances. Redmayne is simply astounding, affecting a mesmerising physical transformation that surely warrants an Oscar. He brilliantly conveys every raw emotion or flash of impish humour with his eyes or the twitch of a facial muscle.
Jones is equally compelling as his soul mate, who sacrifices everything in the name of love. The scene in which she finally acknowledges hard-fought defeat to save the relationship and tearfully tells Stephen, "I have loved you... I did my best," is heartbreaking.
Director Marsh uses simple visual motifs to illuminate the complex cosmology, such as a swirl of cream in a cup of coffee to represent a spiral galaxy in Stephen's mind. With its delicate balance of tear-stained drama, deeply felt romance and comedy, The Theory Of Everything hits upon a winning formula.