Beautiful Mind" tells the real story of John Nash,
a Princeton mathematician who actually still teaches there to this day. Nash is
played by Russell Crowe, who is quickly distinguishing himself to be an
incredibly versatile actor, going from an overweight and not so bright cop
bloodthirsty gladiator ("Gladiator")
and now a math whiz without missing a beat. Even more astonishing, I never
doubted him in any of those roles for a second.
Crowe's Nash is a tick-heavy, fidgeting kid from West
Virginia. You could call him a nerd, but he's not really a nerd. He's simply in a world all his own. Nash just been given a scholarship to Princeton
and is so completely sure of his own genius that he feels going to class with
"normal mortals" is a total waste of his time. The arrogant Nash longs
to be a distinguished original thinker, to take his place in the annals of
mathematical history, and his only real friend in college is Charles, an
Englishman who is always there for him.
On his quest to prove his genius to the
world, Nash butts heads with would-be friends, would-be enemies, and eventually distinguishes himself
with an original theory. I couldn't tell you what that
theory is, although the movie makes mention of it a few times, and the real Nash
even wins a Nobel Prize for it. In a movie like "A Beautiful Mind",
the part of Nash's "mind" that is focused on isn't his work, but his
slowly emerging schizophrenia. In this case, formulas are irrelevant. Before we know it, the movie is no longer about a smart kid in college,
but about a smart kid in college with a brilliant mind who has a terrible mental
illness that is slowly but surely consuming everything that John Nash is, was,
and might be.
Jennifer Connelly ("Dark
City") is Alicia, one of Nash's students at M.I.T. She is immediately taken with his
and asks him out. The two start a romance, and before long are married. When
Nash's mental illness surfaces, it is Alicia who is there for him. Connelly plays Alicia as a stoic supporter of Nash
through his many trials and tribulations, and she is quite simply marvelous in the role.
Even as she tries to hang on with Nash through his paranoid schizophrenia, we
can see Alicia starting to crack herself.
Connelly is perfectly cast as the
beautiful and sympathetic Alicia, a woman who loves Nash for reasons that we don't quite
understand -- and apparently neither does she. She is drawn to him by his
ineffectiveness in society, his awkwardness around women, and his inner passion
to distinguish himself in the world of science. Despite looking like a man
devoid of emotions, Nash is full of passion, and Alicia sees it when no one else
"A Beautiful Mind" is set in the '50s and as such the
paranoia of the era is prevalent. The atmosphere of the time and America's
quickly growing fight with the Soviet Union (re: the escalating Cold War)
figures into the heart of Nash's growing schizophrenia. It isn't long before
Nash begins to see government spies, Russian spies, and
secret codes everywhere. Ed Harris ("Enemy
at the Gates") appears as Parcher, a Department of Defense
agent who recruits Nash to help solve a Russian plot to set off an atomic bomb
in the United States. Or is he?
Director Ron Howard shows great restraint with the
direction. He allows the movie and the actors to tell the story without
inserting his own "style" to take us away from what is
onscreen. Howard knows that he has a great cast and never
once does something idiotic with the camera that pulls the viewers out of John Nash's world.
The screenplay by Akiva Goldsman, he of "Batman
Forever" and "Batman and Robin" infamy, is a pleasant shock.
Who knew he could actually write?