Die Theorie von Allem, Germany/Austria/Switzerland 2023. Directed by Timm Kröger, written by Timm Kröger & Roderick Warich.
Cinema Theater, Row 3, Seat 11. Original version.
(This post originally appeared, in slightly different form, at my Instagram account betweendrafts.)
I like the movie, and I heartily recommend watching it. But be prepared for some crumminess, most of which is, sadly, the opposite of uncommon in contemporary German productions.
Overacting is severe; the actors seem to play not their characters but caricatures of their characters. The dialogues are not outright terrible, but a far cry from being well-crafted, and anything beyond their surface meaning is outsourced to overacting. While Rodríguez’s old-school symphonic score is interesting and memorable, it is often dreadfully overpresent, and at times so poorly set (whatever happened to spotting sessions?) that scenes keel over into melodrama.
Finally, the physics bits, of which there were quite a lot, were infuriatingly half-assed, just as if someone had fed keywords for the foundations of quantum mechanics into their search engine and quote-mined bits and quips from the results to make the script sound au courant. What’s more, the perfectly ridiculous “conference” setting alone makes it abundantly clear that the script was blissfully untouched by any deeper research or understanding of how physics communities work. Finally, it’s obvious from the dialogues that the movie riffs on the many-world interpretation of quantum mechanics, which has fuck nothing to do with the title’s “Theory of Everything.”
But still, it’s a great cinematic experience. There’s a lot of tension and suspense, and Stuprich’s expressionist black-and-white cinematography is breathtaking. As to the plot, its overalls shape is not too hard to grasp, but it remains incomprehensible in the details, with is both a bad thing (“it’ll do” screenwriting sloppiness) and a good thing (there’s always a fresh layer of mysteriousness and opaqueness just around the corner, sometimes cleverly hidden in asides one has to catch).
There’s been a renaissance of postmodern movies lately, and this one fits right in, in a good way—at the end, it all empties out into the fragility of historical time and the unreliability of memory and identity.
If you have something valuable to add or some interesting point to discuss, I’ll be looking forward to meeting you on Mastodon!