A Beautiful Mind
A Beautiful Mind (2001) – Originally written August 2003
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ok, I admit it, a film about a mathematician to many people seems like a bad idea. Let’s just get that out straight away. Even the most intellectual person might sometimes find fault in a film about a genius. The thing is though that this film isn’t as dull as that one notion might imply.
A Beautiful Mind charts the rise, fall & rise again of John Nash, one of the cleverest men of the 20th Century. It starts with his rise at Princeton & his “Original Idea” which challenges Adam Smith’s Economic principle of everyone working for themselves. Eventually John ends up working for the Government, before it is revealed that the people from the government don’t exist & John imagines them. John finally learns to ignore these delusions however & his star rises once again.
When I went to see this film, I confess to being sceptical. I’d seen Gladiator & the idea of Maximus becoming a Mathematician seemed almost impossible and I couldn’t understand the fuss of this film. Then however I watched the entire film and reappeared a changed man. Russell Crowe could infact be a quality Mathematician & provided possibly his finest performance (in my view), and the film indeed deserved all of it’s praise. There are many reasons why people suggest Russell didn’t get the Oscar for his performance, but I do confess that Washington deserved it. The simple reason that Washington deserves the Oscar is that whilst I don’t feel Training Day could succeed without Denzil, the script & other actors performances in this film were so startlingly brilliant, that I hate to say it, but it still probably would have won best film without Russell’s appearance.
Anyway, the flaws with this film. One friend of mine got increasingly upset one day when I claimed that this film was magical & deserved all it’s praise. Her arguements were simply that the film didn’t take account of certain things in the book and more scarily that The Lord Of The Rings was better. Now I’ve never read the book (to be fair, neither had she, she’d just read a negative review), but as for The Lord Of The Rings, whilst I confess to finding it enjoyable, I don’t think it is in the same league as this film. The plot of LOTR is just as stunning, but it doesn’t make you think in the same way and personally I don’t feel it has the same Longitivity. I’ve seen both films the same number of times, but whilst I try to avoid LOTR (the first one anyway) now, I feel I could keep watching A Beautiful Mind over and over again. That’s part of it’s brilliance.
Truth be told, the thing I adore about A Beautiful Mind (and the same things I love about K-Pax and Donnie Darko) is that it presents you with a brilliant suggestion which you can sit and think about for hours on end. In Donnie Darko there is Donnie’s situation, in K-Pax there’s certain comments Prot makes about time, humans and Earth, and in this film there are the notions of coming up with an original idea (something I confess to have been trying to do for two years of University now) and more importantly the problems of trying to force someone with a mental problem to take drugs. No doubt I’m bound to have some Psychologists shouting at me here, but these people seem to be very split on this view. What I fail to understand is why we don’t consider Nash’s views more and try and cure these people using discussion and reason rather than pumping them full of drugs. One Psychology student I spoke to shot me down and instantly claimed that they need the drugs for reasons I confess to forgetting, whilst another person I know who is actually a practicing Psychologist completely agreed with me (but then, she was drunk!). Anyway, the beauty of this film is that it gives us this idea and attempts to get us to think about it. That is what this type of film should try to do and it is what A Beautiful Mind does perfectly.
So to summarise, a quality script, stunning acting, excellent lighting and a truely Beautiful Mind. Watch, Think, Discover Yourself.