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Sunday, February 25, 2024

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“THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING”

THE STORY – 1962. Johannes Leinert, together with his doctoral advisor, travels to a physics congress in the Swiss Alps, where an Iranian scientist is set to reveal a “groundbreaking theory of quantum mechanics.” But when the physicists arrive at the five star hotel, the Iranian guest is nowhere to be found. In the absence of a new theory to be discussed, the physics community patiently turns to skiing. Johannes, however, remains at the hotel to work on his doctor’s thesis, but soon finds himself distracted, developing a special fascination with Karin, a young jazz pianist. Something about her seems strange, elusive. She seems to know things about him—things that he thought only he knew about. When one of the German physicists is found dead one morning, two inspectors arrive on the scene, investigating a homicide case. As increasingly bizarre cloud formations appear in the sky, the pianist disappears without a trace—and Johannes finds himself dragged into a sinister story of false memories, real nightmares, impossible love, and a dark, roaring mystery hidden beneath the mountain.

THE CAST – Jan Bülow, Olivia Ross, Hanns Zischler, Gottfried Breitfuss, David Bennent & Philippe Graber

THE TEAM – Timm Kröger (Director/Writer) & Roderick Warich (Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 118 Minutes


There’s a great deal of room that can be played within the genre of science fiction. It’s a vast landscape that doesn’t always have to be set in far-out universes and dealing with alien races. It can also be set in a real world or at least one closely resembling a recognizable reality. It is in this arena that one can find more resonant themes to be revealed, as their impact has a much stronger connection to the modern world. For “The Theory of Everything” (or “Die Theorie von Allem” so it’s not confused with the 2015 film of the same name), that is slightly askew by being set in a distant past. Still, it seeks to find profound meaning in its subject matter but sadly struggles to be thoroughly engaging.

In 1962, a scientific congress is occurring in the Alps. An Iranian scientist has been invited to give a lecture on a new theory that claims to be quite revolutionary. Johannes (Jan Bülow) is traveling to the conference with his doctoral adviser, Dr. Strathen (Hanns Zischler). However, it is soon discovered that the Iranian has not appeared, and the conference is canceled. While the scientists stay at the luxury hotel to take in the sights, Johannes continues working away at his own doctor’s thesis, trying to calculate his own grandiose theory. He finds himself distracted by an alluring jazz pianist named Karin (Olivia Ross) and the boastful Professor Blumberg (Gottfried Breitfuss). Both seem to have a connection to strange happenings that are occurring. Unusual cloud formations, grizzly homicides, and spectral visions lead Johannes to try and find out the mysterious cause behind such an unusual phenomenon.

There is a somewhat fascinating element at play in how director Timm Kröger presents this story. It feels highly evocative of classic cinema, with the expressive black and white cinematography and the luscious orchestral score. Those aspects help to establish the overall mood, which is impressive. Unfortunately, it is merely window dressing for a narrative that has difficulty becoming more compelling. The concept is intriguing but reveals itself at such a measured pace that it forces the momentum to become so sluggish. The tiny breadcrumbs dropped that slowly showcase more of this twisty plot eventually are not enough to satisfy. The involvement of the characters comes across as tenuous, and the relationships being followed are shallow and stale. Things improve in the last act when it seems the storytelling is finally committed to crafting a more captivating atmosphere. Still, it also appears to rush towards its finale without adequately establishing the stakes necessary to be genuinely moved. Kröger handsomely assembles this piece, but in an effort to keep its mystery intact, the story becomes a mostly dull exercise instead.

Even though there is a sense that Johannes is supposed to be somewhat of an everyman getting pulled into a strange situation, Bülow still doesn’t manage to make him a more engaging figure. His portrayal doesn’t contain any subtle charisma to make one invest more in his journey. Instead, he just comes across as bland and pedestrian. There’s a bit more enticement coming from Ross, but she also has a character that doesn’t have much to offer until the finale. The only ensemble member who makes somewhat of an impact is Breitfuss, who brings a charming screen presence that breathes life into material that desperately needs to feel invigorated. He is the only member of this ensemble who is memorable in the slightest, with everyone else merely giving competent portrayals but nothing extraordinary.

There was much potential for “The Theory of Everything” to be a more thrilling work. The premise is an inviting foundation, and the crafts excel in their presentation. However, the task of making this a more enthralling experience proves difficult. The narrative just can’t find the motivation to keep the energy up, resulting in a laborious venture that not even the actors can save. This is, sadly, a science-fiction project with exciting ideas and a flawed execution.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - An intriguing science-fiction concept at the center lifts up some impressive crafts on display.

THE BAD - The narrative moves at a sluggish pace and struggles to make its mystery all that engaging. Most of the performances, save for one, are merely serviceable.

THE OSCARS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 5/10

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Josh Parham
Josh Parhamhttps://nextbestpicture.com
I love movies so much I evidently hate them. Wants to run a production company.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>An intriguing science-fiction concept at the center lifts up some impressive crafts on display.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The narrative moves at a sluggish pace and struggles to make its mystery all that engaging. Most of the performances, save for one, are merely serviceable.<br><br> <b>THE OSCARS - </b>None <br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>5/10<br><br>"THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING"