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:: A Beautiful Mind

Ron Howard makes his best ever movie with “A Beautiful Mind” because it is intelligently conceived and well crafted. With another brilliant performance by Russell Crowe, the story is moving and stimulating, in being based on the life of John Nash (Crowe), a brilliant mathematician who had to confront serious mental problems on the way to winning the Nobel Prize in 1994.

While the facts of Nash’s life may be accurate, one must expect a little embellishment of the details. Nash studied at Princeton in 1947 and is seen as brilliant but erratic. He lacks social skills, but is helped through those difficult years by his roommate Charles (Paul Bettany). Years later, after an amazing breakthrough that revolutionises economics and earning a doctorate degree, Nash is teaching at MIT. During this time, he meets and falls in love with Alicia (Jennifer Connelly). He became smitten that one of his students had coaxed him into the somewhat illogical world of love. They eventually marry.

Shortly after, however, the lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur. Paranoia sets in fiercely as Nash is asked to work in a secret military operation for a shady government agent, Parcher (Ed Harris), after successfully breaking a code on behalf of the US government. The relevance of the USA’s anti-communist paranoia during the period is downplayed. Nash is afflicted with paranoid hallucinations and, by the time he is taken to a mental hospital under the care of the mysterious Dr Rosen (Christopher Plummer), he is diagnosed as having an advanced case of schizophrenia.

The film takes us on a true emotional roller coaster. The brilliance of this story lies in two aspects. The first is Ron Howard’s ability to create as vision of the schizophrenic mind, something rare to achieve. The second is the actors’ ability. Russell Crowe lives the life of Nash and is superbly subtle in the second half of the film. It’s an opportunity for him to broaden his range and he allows the character to come to the fore, much like his role in “The Insider”. When it comes to depicting Nash’s battle with his demons, Crowe’s performance is utterly convincing. He and Jennifer Connelly have an affecting relationship in the film. She is luminous as Alicia. When carefully considered, her complex work, depicting a woman torn by love and fear for the same man, helps elevate the film to a higher level. She will reap the deserved rewards after this performance. Ed Harris and Paul Bettany provide solid supporting roles.

A viewer certainly doesn’t have to be a mathematical genius to appreciate what “A Beautiful Mind” offers. The film isn’t about mathematics except as a symbol. It’s about human frailty and the ability to triumph over it. Nash goes on to win the Nobel Prize but it’s his struggle with his mind that makes this film so unique and powerful. The only thing not addressed in the film is the question of Nash’s bisexuality. An exploration of how Nash’s sexuality related to his near-constant social struggles could only have enriched the film further. Therefore, a couple of missed chances for further character development prevent “A Beautiful Mind” from being a really outstanding film. It’s certainly worth viewing anyway, because of the strength of production and acting.

Screening on general release