A BEAUTIFUL MIND

Directed by Ron Howard. USA. 2001.


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I go to the movies quite often, (a very sad amount some people would say) and I have found that some things are typical to every cinema going experience. It’s typical that in every theatre someone will have a cell phone ringing at an inopportune moment. It’s typical that no matter where you sit, someone who has seen the movie before will sit directly behind you, describing the upcoming events ad nauseam to the unfortunate they brought with them. What isn’t typical however is to have a movie capture your focus to the point where all other film goers quirks melt away. Such is the calibre of A Beautiful Mind.

A Beautiful Mind, is the biopic of the brilliant mathematician John Forbes Nash, and his equally amazing love Alicia. It chronicles his strive to find his “one original idea”, how that fight brings him to madness, and how the strength of his incredible wife brings him back to the real world.

Russell Crowe (Gladiator, The Silver Brumby) stars as John Nash, and after watching his Oscar nominated, astounding performance I have two things to say:

1. All the safe bets on Oscar night will be for this man to walk away with everything.

2. Crowe will only ever encounter one problem in any future dramatic endeavours he will chose to undertake; finding roles to keep up with him. 

Russell Crowe has a beautiful mind. All Rights Reserved.Crowe’s given an honesty to this character, letting both the negative views, like Nash’s level of arrogance shine through, but also infused him with a great deal of charm. One of my favourite scenes in this film is after Nash’s diagnosis of having schizophrenia is known to his colleagues, an uneasy friend comes to see him. His friend attempts to sit down in the empty chair opposite Nash, and, sensing his unease, Nash says, “Have you met my friend Harvey?” His friend jumps back, and Nash replies with “Relax. What’s the point of being crazy if you can’t have a little fun?”. I am constantly disappointed by films that deal with mental illness by having the lead actor flail his limbs and stutter, for the simple lack of an original method of handling that sort of storyline. The only actor that has even come close to Crowe’s performance in the hospital scenes is Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, and even he didn’t have the grace and style that Crowe gives to Nash.

After watching Jennifer Connelly’s (Requiem For a Dream, Inventing the Abbots) turn in this film I have become convinced that this actresses beauty is eclipsed only by her talent. In her Oscar nominated turn as Alicia Nash Connelly gives the audience a glimpse of a woman with amazing strength. Even after her brilliant husband’s diagnosis, even after taking on caring for their child, and for him, she stands right beside him, unwavering. The most remarkable thing about Connelly’s performance however, are the moments of genuine humanity that she gives to Alicia. It would have been quite easy for this character to turn into the mindless little woman. Not so here. When trying to break through to her husband to show him that although he may be haunted by delusions, the love she has for him is real, she shows her colossal heart. When, in a moment of pure pent up frustration, she smashes a water glass, and lets out a primal scream, you see the characters perfect flaws. Connelly has created a portrait that she can be eternally proud of.

From the opening credits, to Crowe’s final moments it seemed that there was nothing in the world, save for myself, and the performers in this film. It seemed almost a shame to have the lights come up on the audience, but as they did I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation going on behind me. It seemed that a family had come to see this movie together, and in between the mother’s sniffles I heard her say, “That Russell guy is amazing. He’s all the more gorgeous when you get to see how talented he is.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Jen Johnston
 
 
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