Russell Crowe gives a mesmerising performance as mathematical genius John Forbes Nash, Jr. After distinguishing himself early in his career, Nash was enlisted by the US government to intercept Soviet communications during the Cold War. However, a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia plunges him into the depths of despair. By his side throughout his ordeal is his stoic wife Alicia, played by Jennifer Connelly, whose Oscar for Best Actress was among the four won by the movie at the 2002 Academy Awards.
The film covers 47 years in the life of Nash from his arrival at Princeton in 1947 as a precocious, socially inept post graduate student to his Nobel Prize in 1994. At Princeton his obsessive nature, his alienation from the crowd become all too obvious. His roommate Charles (Paul Bettany) forces him into a sort of social life, which, according to the film, sparks the development of his game theory – the Nash equilibrium. Six years later he's teaching at M.I.T. where he meets his future wife Alicia (Jennifer Connelly) and becomes involved with secret government business during the Cold War through William Parcher (Ed Harris). And it's at this time that his illness – paranoid schizophrenia – starts to manifest itself.
This could be, certainly at the hands of director Ron Howard, just another Hollywood story of triumph over adversity. But for the most part Howard restrains himself. The film's strength is certainly the towering performance of Crowe as Nash, he inhabits the man from the internal organs out and Jennifer Connelly's performance as Alicia is also outstanding. The story has been Hollywoodised, screenwriter Akiva Goldman admits himself that Nash's life has been semi-fictionalised from Sylvia Nasar's biography. But it still proves to be a moving and insightful experience into the rarefied world of mathematics and serious mental illness.
Watch 'A Beautiful Mind'
Saturday 17 April, 8:30pm on SBS World Movies / NOTE: no catch-up at SBS On Demand
Genre: Drama, Biography
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Paul Bettany