Except for its disjunctive editing style & penchant for color-tinted filters, this bio-pic of famous physically-challenged physicist Stephen Hawking is so conventional, you forget you’ve watched it while you’re watching it. (Must be the expanding time continuum.) Loaded with acting talent, it’s medium effective (and affective) with Eddie Redmayne’s disabled cosmologist suffering nobly while still looking cute as a puppy. And Charlie Cox, who might be Ben Chaplin’s kid brother, making a tricky gentleman-caller role look easy. Maybe that’s the problem, everyone smooths over the bumps. (The price of adapting from one of your main subjects, the first Mrs. Hawking?) Even some triangulated DESIGN FOR LIVING marital problems leave no mark. Director James Marsh, fresh from documentary-land, uses a frenetic style while Hawking is still getting around on his own; calming down as his ability to move and even speak desert him. The exact opposite of what’s needed to get things across visually. And for an uplifting finale, choose A: Triumphal Speech/Standing ‘O’; B: Civic Honors/Knighthood; or C: Joyous Family Gathering. . . . CORRECT! It’s D: All of the Above!
DOUBLE-BILL: Another ailing physicist gets the glossy treatment in A BEAUTIFUL MIND/01 (as well as Ending ‘A’); but SHINE/’96, the Geoffrey Rush starrer about manic classical pianist David Helfgott, seems a better match.