Urban Cinefile
"Since the revival of mashed potato on restaurant menus, it's been clear that we live in reactionary times."  -Jan Epstein, on Independence Day
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday May 22, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Obsessed with finding a truly original mathematical idea, John Forbes Nash (Russell Crowe) arrives at Princeton in 1947 for graduate study – as an outsider, a loner, a bit of an oddity. In a bar one night with his peers and contemplating a group of girls led by a tall blonde, the kernel of his theory on the mathematics of competition bursts forth. In contradiction of the eminent Adam Smith, Nash nonethless sticks with it and lands a coveted senior post at MIT. Here, he becomes a willing recruit as a top secret code breaker, under the control of shadowy William Parcher (Ed Harris). It is also here that he meets Alicia Larde (Jennifer Connelly) and discovers that the laws of maths are but nothing to the laws of love. His secret code breaking task takes a heavy toll, and when he is diagnosed with schizophrenia, Nash seems destroyed personally and professionally.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Watching this film about a brilliant mathematician who suffers from schizophrenia, you might wonder whether brilliant minds have more brilliant delusions than lesser ones. I did. But you will wonder even more at the power of love as illustrated in this fact based story. Whatever the accuracy of the details, Nash’s partial recovery outside the mental healthcare system is an ode to the love of his wife. These are some of the residual thoughts after seeing A Beautiful Mind, which immerses us in the world of Nash, even though it doesn’t try to be a biography. The focus of the film is on Nash’s one brilliant idea, his then being struck by mental illness, and his final triumph on the pedestal in Sweden, accepting his Nobel prize, almost 50 years after the story begins. Russell Crowe makes it a gripping 135 minute session, losing Russell as he brings John to life. It’s not an impersonation - more an impressionistic portrait, perhaps: complex, detailed, affecting and moving. And sometimes funny. Even if on occasion we are distracted by the ageing make up (which is generally invisible and effective), we are never in doubt about the emotional sincerity of the performance. Jennifer Connelly makes a marvellous Alicia, heartbreaking one minute, powerful the next. Not surprisingly with Ron Howard at the helm, every single performance, down to the smallest support, is spot on. Howard’s direction is confident and focused, looking for the human interest story to be the main line of the film. He is well assisted by his team of designer, cinematographer and composer, who fashion a real love story out of Nash’s unique real life. Russell Crowe reckons this is an important film, and it’s hard to disagree: it not only provides a valuable and unusually lucid insight into the symptoms and the sufferings of schizophrenia, it also quietly highlights the value of the individual in Western society.

Review by Louise Keller:
An inspiring story of courage and triumph, A Beautiful Mind is a powerful and gripping drama that explores not only the fine line between reality and paranoia, but surviving the conundrum. It's a confronting yet poignant story, masterfully brought into our hearts by enigmatic Russell Crowe, in a riveting, edgy performance as John Forbes Nash Jr. who is obsessed with finding an original idea. Crowe embodies the anti-social, arrogant genius with no holds barred, baring his soul as he ventures on a journey of terror, humiliation and ultimate vulnerability. While Nash confesses that he has two helpings of brain and only half a helping of heart, it is ironic and overtly moving that it is the heart that imparts so strong a beat. Ron Howard has approached this intense subject matter with tenderness, but carefully avoids glamorizing the subject matter. Beautifully handled is the pivotal relationship between Nash and Alicia, and Jennifer Connelly is wonderful, capturing every nuance. There is one pivotal moment when Alicia has the agony of deciding her husband's fate. In the face of adversity, to take the decision she does, is one of great strength and courage, and it is inspiring to think that perhaps love does conquer all. By the end of the film, an almost unrecognisable Crowe has been totally swallowed up in the Nash persona and we have been witness to extraordinary courage and privy to an unforgettable experience. The ride may not be comfortable, but as we encounter life through Nash's eyes, we gain a real sense of understanding. What's real and what's not becomes as much a burden for us as it does for Nash. A succinct script leads us into unexpected places and it is not until the film's final minutes that the emotional heart hits its mark. It's a superb production – from the design and make up to James Horner's subtle, but complex and haunting themes that trigger the subconscious, opening the door to an emotional tempest. Feed the dream – where it leads you may not be what you expected.

Email this article

Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

RUSSELL CROWE interview by Andrew L. Urban




CAST: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, Vivien Cardone, Adam Goldberg, Judd Hirsch, Josh Lucas, Anthony Rapp, and Christopher Plummer

DIRECTOR: Ron Howard

PRODUCER: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard

SCRIPT: Akiva Goldsman (book by Sylvia Nasar)


EDITOR: Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill

MUSIC: James Horner


RUNNING TIME: 134 minutes



© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020