A Beautiful Mind

 


He saw the world in a way no one could have imagined.

 

Jurassic Mark

SCORE: 3 Stars

I have a friend who is a compassionate mother and reasonable person. She has a daughter who suffers from intense anxiety attacks. The mother is unable to understand why her daughter can't "snap" out of these panic attacks. After all, this is not a "real" disease. It's just in her mind.

Strange that a woman of fifty would be unable to empathize with her daughter's condition. I wonder what she would say about Nobel prize winner John Nash. 

A Beautiful Mind is about a mathematical genius who suffers from severe schizophrenia. Our story begins with a young Nash (Oscar winner Russell Crowe) tackling Princeton. Nash is competing with keen minds and is obsessed with formulating a completely original idea. Early on, the movie demonstrates that Nash equates achievement with recognition. His need for achievement/recognition is obsessive.

With zero social skills, Nash needs the help of his carefree roommate Charles (Paul Bettany) to survive on campus. Eventually, Nash finds his original idea, and it's a dandy. Then Nash finds something perhaps more important: an extraordinary woman named Alicia (Jennifer Connelly). Nash and Alicia fit the "opposites attract" bill to perfection. 

Connelly has been around for awhile, but, truth be told, her large frontal region always gets in the way of her acting. Let's face it , Connelly's chest is distracting. Here, director Ron Howard asks her to tone down her (uh?) "huge tracts of land" and emphasize her naturally beauty by fitting her in backless dresses and utilizing close-ups of her pretty face framed by that long, dark hair.. Now why didn't anybody think of that before? I turns out that Connelly is a good actress who happens to have amazing real estate.

The rest of A Beautiful Mind came unexpected to me as I didn't know anything about the real Nash. I'll only say that the previews I saw were misleading. This is not the tale of a brilliant man who happens to have a few mental problems. This is the story of a man who spent much of his life unable to distinguish fiction from reality. Nash suffered from dangerous paranoid/schizophrenia. He doesn't just hallucinate, he imagines entire relationships that go back for years. Director Howard takes us through a mind-blowing tale where we eventually doubt everything that Nash encounters.

How much of that direction did Russell Crowe need? I've never seen him better. He won an undeserved Oscar for Gladiator, but, he's absolutely astonishing here. Crowe's performance makes me reevaluate the Best Actor category which will be announced in the second week of February.

My credo has always been that movies about smart people are more satisfying than movies about stupid people. Comedies are sometimes the exception. If I were trying to sell A Beautiful Mind to a Hollywood executive, I might describe it as Good Will Hunting meets Rain Man. I think they'd buy it. Then I'd go and make something 
like Ron Howard's film.