This review was first published to Facebook on 29.1.22
In many ways this is a conventional, somewhat soapy biopic, and I did spend a lot of time going ‘What’s HE been in? Ooh – there’s Martha from Silk, and the Deacon from Rev, and gosh, is Emily Watson old enough to be playing an adult’s mother now?’ but that always happens with these ensemble pieces full of brilliant English character actors. There’s something about the English, as opposed to the American, filmmaker’s sensibility that has me intoning the old saw ‘the Brits do this kind of thing so well, don’t they?’ I know I’m always going on about this, and I am open to the argument that it’s a peculiar and unwarranted prejudice of mine.
However, there’s no getting away from the absolutely riveting and moving performance of Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking. Haven’t seen anything so powerful since Daniel Day-Lewis did Christy Brown in My Left Foot, which won him an Oscar, and I reckon Redmayne deserves one too. And it is a wonderful true story after all, even if Hawking’s first wife’s account does lean to the romantic and personal rather than to the scientific. But that’s probably a blessing. I remember going to some trouble to get hold of A Brief History of Time years ago, only to find I didn’t have the mathematical chops to be able to read it, even though Hawking tried to keep it simple and I even passed matric level maths. 😉