for intense thematic material, sexual content and a scene of violence.
as John Nash
Russell Crowe makes another run to Oscar glory playing famed mathematician John Nash in Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind. Strong performances highlight a film that while entertaining, jumps around too much and at times felt like it was bordering on comedy.
John Nash is a brilliant man, lacking in social skills. Everything revolves around math to him, and the rest of his life suffers because of it. He attends Princeton and decides that going to class would only stop his mental growth, and instead spends all his time trying to come up with a new, original theory. When after a couple of years he finally does, he accepts a highly regarded position that everyone in school wanted. A few years later he is asked to be a part of a government plan to try and decipher Russian codes that are placed in magazines. This leads him in to all kinds of trouble, and he believes he is being attacked by Russian agents. As it turns out, Professor Nash is schizophrenic, and can not separate reality from fiction. He is married and has a child on the way, but now is no longer sure what is real and what isn't. His wife (Jennifer Connelly) stays with him and tries to help him through his problems. And as the years pass, his problem stays with him, but he manages to fight through it, and in the end the theory he came up with all those years ago in school, ends up winning him a very special prize.
A Beautiful Mind was not the movie I thought it was going to be. From the previews, I was thinking it was going to be some kind of spy thriller, and this was more of a 2+ hour biography of a man with an extraordinary life. I knew nothing about John Nash before seeing this film, so I didn't know what to expect. I found that at times I was bored, and wondering where the film was going, while at other times I was blown away by the performances of Crowe and Connelly. When it is revealed that not everything we saw happened, it sort of made me wonder why all that was shown in the first place. But as the movie continued, I started to understand that it was all part of what made Nash so special. He had to fight very serious demons and go through a lot of pain and suffering to get to where he is today.
I read recently that the movie doesn't go into full details of Nash's life. For instance, he and his wife divorced, lived together for many years battling his illness and raising their son, and then re-married. In the movie, it's all one straight line. I'm not sure what difference it would have made story-wise to show what really happened, but it's one of those things that make you wonder what else they left out. Towards the end of the film, I started to feel like what was happening was almost comedic instead of serious. For about 10-20 minutes, the movie jumped from decade to decade, showing Nash wearing different clothing and having different glasses, and always seeing people that weren't there. It wasn't as moving as it should have been, it was instead just humorous. To paraphrase a certain President, I didn't feel Nash's pain as I should have.
What I did truly enjoy about the film were the acting jobs by Crowe and Connelly. At first there didn't seem to be anything really special about the work, but as the movie went on, I got more and more into their performances. Connelly especially I wasn't prepared for. She has come a long way in a short time and I feel is poised to make the jump to the upper level of actresses working today. And Crowe is destined to be nominated for yet another Academy Award, and right now in my mind, is at the front of the pack. He managed to capture a lot of passion in a man who didn't appear to show a lot of emotion. The more Nash started to fall apart, the better Crowe's performance was, and the more his wife had to deal with his breakdown, the better Connelly got. Ed Harris is probably the best character actor working today, but I was surprised to see him get second billing over Connelly. His role wasn't as big as hers, and I don't think as important to the overall story as hers. But I suppose he was the bigger name, although in a few years, I don't think that'll be the case.
Overall A Beautiful Mind was a strong movie based mainly on the acting of Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. I didn't find the story as engaging as I had hoped, and I think the previews kind of misled me into thinking this would be a different kind of film. At times it seemed to drag, and at times it was bordering on being unintentionally funny, instead of being a poignant story of a man having to always battle the demons inside.
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Requiem for a Dream