Review: Hawking (2004)

Hawking (dir. Philip Martin, 2004) – At the age of 21, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, which never impeded his ground-breaking work on the nature of the universe. 

Verdict

Faithfully documenting famed physicist Stephen Hawking’s journey, this engaging biopic gains credibility in Benedict Cumberbatch’s fine performance.

4/5

Review

In the first dramatisation of Stephen Hawking’s life, Hawking takes us through the famed physicist’s early years as a budding PhD student. The BBC television film faithfully chronicles his undying persistence in science, throughout the difficult years of his struggle with motor-neuron disease.

Depicting both his scientific achievements and his determination to overcome his condition, the moving story acquaints us with the man behind the science. Therein lies an emotional exploration of an enduring romance, in the form of his loving relationship with his first wife Jane Hawking.

An inspiration to many, Hawking persists in fighting his disease with his passion. This comes in both his career and marriage. Though a relatively condensed account, a layered script and a powerful lead performance keep the audience engaged.

No stranger to true stories, Benedict Cumberbatch had starred in several before his rendition of Sherlock Holmes in the modern 21st century. The standouts are Van Gogh: Painted With Words and Stuart: A Life Backwards, which truly showcase his versatility.

As the first actor to play famed physicist Stephen Hawking on screen, Cumberbatch’s task is a challenge. But the act that could easily be deemed unrealistic or undignified, is instead an extraordinary one. His adept craft never allows his portrayal to become a self-parody. Driven by this credibility, Hawking’s tenacity to hold onto hope, despite his deteriorating physicality, is deeply touching.

 

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