By now, it’s old news that “A Beautiful Mind” swept the Golden Globe Awards. But for those who haven’t seen the new Ron Howard -directed bio-pic of mathematician John Nash, I offer the following – “A Beautiful Mind” deserved it.
From the deeply woven story that keeps viewers guessing until the very end, to the flawless direction that takes Howard a step away from his heartfelt “Far and Away” style melodrama, the movie was an excellent testament to the fact that Hollywood can still yield a well-made artistic film amidst the overwhelming wave of mindless movies.
But by far, the best part of the film was Russell Crowe’s gem of a performance as the lead character, a man plagued by hopes of greatness and psychological defects.
The film follows Nash through his years of college, a young West Virginian competing as a little-known in a world of students whose work is being published and accepted into the mathematical curriculum. Frustrated, Nash turns to his roommate, the boisterous Charles (Paul Bettany), to help him out of his funk. Like a true English major, Charles suggests three things: pizza, beer and girls.
At the local pizza parlor, contemplating whether to go after a particularly cute blonde, Nash comes up with the theory that would later make him famous and get him a job with the government at M.I.T.
While teaching at M.I.T., Nash meets the beautiful student Alicia (Jennifer Connelly). He also falls into a top-secret world of code-breaking and bag drops under the tutelage of super-spy Parcher (played by a particularly creepy Ed Harris). After marrying Alicia, and shortly thereafter being shot at in a high-speed chase, John Nash begins to lose his grip on reality.
That’s when he finds out he never really had a grip on it at all.
Throughout the film, Crowe never falters as the sometimes-brilliant, sometimes crazy-as-a-march-hare mathematician, keeping up the slow, deep accent that Tom Hanks sometimes dropped the ball on with Forrest Gump. The emotions his face carries speak volumes in each scene, and his scenes with Jennifer Connelly as his wife are particularly impressive. Crowe will no doubt be earning at least an Academy Award nomination for his role in “A Beautiful Mind.”
Moreover, every actor in the movie stood out as a character, not as a mere player in a 2-hour drama of someone else’s life. Connelly was perfect as the wife who stands by her husband even in the darkest hour of his mind-malfunctions, Bettany seemed to be made for the part of the jester Charles, and Harris was downright scary as the over-the-top government agent.
Nash later went on to win the Nobel Prize for his original theories, and has since seemingly overcome the struggles with his mental problems. If the real life problems were as complicated and deep as the movie portrays them, the guy deserves an award at least for staying as sane as he has.