A Beautiful Mind (12)

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Review byMatthew Turner25/02/2002

Three out of five stars
Running time: 134 mins

Well-made film with some deservedly Oscar-nominated performances - it takes some shocking liberties with its subject matter but remains engaging and enjoyable throughout.

The most important thing to say about A Beautiful Mind is that the less you know about the film going in, the more you'll get out of it. Conversely, the more you find out about it after you've seen it, the more chance it has of annoying you. With this in mind, if you're planning to see it, you should probably stop reading now, safe in the knowledge that it's a well-made, entertaining film with some great performances, principally by Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe (both deservedly Oscar-nominated) and Paul Bettany.

Still here? Well, don't say we didn't warn you. Russell Crowe plays real-life mathematician Professor John Nash, a shy, bumbling man who is obsessed with making his mark on the world by finding his "one, original idea". He finds it with his invention of 'Game Theory', which, in the film's most enjoyable sequence, comes to him in a flash of inspiration while down the pub checking out girls.

The rest of the film details Nash's marriage to one of his students (Jennifer Connelly, so who can blame him?), and his gradual, incomprehending descent into mental illness, before, in one of those Oscar-baiting 'triumph over adversity'-type deals, winning the Nobel prize in later life - director Ron 'Richie Cunningham' Howard has never been one to shy away from the schmaltz and here he trowels it on in no uncertain terms.

There has already been a sizeable backlash against the film, because it purports to be a biopic, yet has left out all the more unsavoury details of Nash's life, such as his divorce from Alicia (in stark contrast to the 'inspirational love story' on screen that both stars keep banging on about in interviews), a child out of wedlock and an episode in which he was arrested for soliciting homosexual sex in a public lavatory. This is equally annoying because you can't help feeling that the story would have been all the more compelling with those elements left in.

However, it has to be said that what remains is still an engaging story, though perhaps it would have been better with an 'inspired by the story of John Nash' credit. At any rate, the acting is superb, with Crowe once again completely inhabiting a real-life character as he did in The Insider. (That said, some may find his mannered performance a little too 'Rain Man' for their tastes).

He is given excellent support by Jennifer Connelly (hopefully her Oscar nomination will finally lead to her being given the more high-profile roles that she deserves), Ed Harris as a sinister government agent and Paul Bettany (stealing the film once again, just as he did A Knight's Tale) as his Princeton room-mate and best friend.

In short, providing you know next to nothing about the film going in, it serves up decent couple of hours' worth of entertainment, delivering some terrific performances, a number of enjoyably comic moments, several moving scenes and one or two genuinely jaw-droppingly shocking moments that are extremely well-handled (and are the reason you should avoid reading much about the film beforehand).

It doesn't exactly deserve to win the Best Picture Oscar (it's the current favourite), but it is nonetheless recommended.

Film Trailer

A Beautiful Mind (12)
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Content updated: 18/02/2019 13:13

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