A Beautiful Mind
Directed by Ron Howard
Starring Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly
On occasion, Hollywood produces a truly inspiring, character driven film. Most of the time, however, those same movies are weakened with distortions of the truth or they set people in unrealistic circumstances. This is even found in documentaries or “based on a true story” works.
A Beautiful Mind can easily be associated with the former, and thankfully, avoids the majority of the trappings of the latter.
The film, based on the same-name biography by Sylvia Nasar, chronicles the genius of Dr. John F. Nash (Russell Crowe), a Princeton economics professor and a 1994 Nobel Prize winner, within a world of mental illness.
Nash’s all-consuming desire to create something “truly original” within a stifling academic world leads him inward instead of finding inspiration within the outside world. This is evident of Nash’s inability to get along with pretty much anyone… except his ambitious and equally strong-willed student, Alicia Larde (Jennifer Connelly), who later becomes his wife.
Before Nash’s disease is revealed (I haven’t ruined anything!), there is nothing remarkable about Nash or Crowe’s performance. It’s not till you later find the “reasons” of his strange behavior, and you view the film again, that the small details director Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Cocoon) and Crowe have infused in the film become clear.
Crowe portrays the subtle nuisances of madness (barely noticeable ticks, speech patterns and unique behavior) with surprising humility and grace. He makes Nash’s illness accessible and, well, normal.
The areas of contention are minor; they don’t seem to hinder the story, but any knowledgable person can point them out.
For instance, Larde is not a “major” player in Nash’s life, according to the film. Larde’s presence, or lack thereof, doesn’t seem to be an untruthful portrayal, but a Hollywood-esqe treatment. They can’t put everything into the film! Anyone who has come down with a minor cold knows how that affects their significant other, so how can Larde be virtually absent during Nash’s most harrowing moments? She can’t.
During one major scene when Nash decides to forego his medication, a sense of astonishment is soon overtaken with “no way” thoughts. We later learn, very quickly, that Nash probably had been taking some form of medication from the beginning.
All in all, A Beautiful Mind is a statement of extraordinary power of the mind and a person’s will that is deserving of its four Golden Globe trophies.