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A Beautiful Mind

#15 - A Beautiful Mind
Ron Howard, 2001

Based on the true story of Nobel-winning mathematician John Nash, whose attempts at working on maths start getting derailed by a number of growing problems.

I knew next to nothing about A Beautiful Mind other than that it was a renowned Oscar winner that - surprise, surprise - was based on a true story about a troubled genius. Fortunately, I think the lowered expectations worked in the film's favour. After a fairly average first act that makes it seem like a fairly pedestrian period drama, the second act gets interesting when Nash (Russell Crowe, here playing up the nervy eccentricity that goes with being a socially awkward maths genius) is recruited by Ed Harris's shadowy G-man as part of a top-secret government project, and then

WARNING: "A Beautiful Mind" spoilers below
it turns out that Ed Harris - in addition to Nash's lifelong friend (Paul Bettany) - is a hallucination and that Nash is a paranoid schizophrenic who needs medication and electroshock.

That revelation, and the fallout that ensues, make for a film that's interesting but doesn't always stick the execution. There's the expected tension between Nash and his wife (Jennifer Connelly, quite reasonably earning an Oscar for her work here) and various ensuing struggles that do come across as legitimately disturbing at times. There's an intriguing premise at work here, but it gets dragged down by Howard's extremely conventional Oscar-bait approach to the subject matter. I don't hate it, but I do feel that the material doesn't quite reach its full potential.