It is very hard to write about this movie without using the word in the title, BEAUTIFUL. There it is, staring at me. Daring me.
A movie about John Nash, a mathematical genius with severe schizophrenia. How can that be made interesting and accessible, especially to those of us not mathematically minded? Or schizophrenic?
By the way, I am a believer in mathematics being something that can truly change one’s life. For example, one day in 10th grade, I was in biology class drawing a picture of a human cell. Today I realize what an amazing piece of design the human cell is. As a 15 year old, I felt trapped within that cell. And then it hit me: by adding the sum total of credits needed to graduate, subtracting that from credits thus far accumulated, I was able to postulate the following theorem: I could drop biology class and still graduate! Thank you, mathematics.
Back to the question: how to make this movie interesting. Answer: don’t worry about it. This isn’t a math problem. It’s a movie problem, and the makers of A Beautiful Mind solved it.
Director Ron Howard had a wonderful script, and a wonderful cast, but he didn’t stop there. He visually weaves numbers in front of our eyes that makes us appreciate mathematics. It won’t help you understand higher math, but it makes you wish you did. Almost.
Now onto Russell Crowe. With most great performances, there is a scene or two that explodes off the screen. Not so here. EVERY scene he is in, he commands. Every line of dialogue he utters, we are amazed. Has any actor’s performance been better than this one? No. Period. Don’t try to think of one. Waste of time. Stop it.
We start this movie marveling at what we believe are merely Nash’s peculiar idiosyncrasies, then we’re plunged into what we discover is his schizophrenia, and ultimately, like Nash, we break free, albeit partly, from the terror of his illness. A perfect ending, no. But an uplifting one, yes.
This movie is, if you don’t MIND my saying, BEAUTIFUL.