A Beautiful Mind
RON HOWARD'S ``A Beautiful Mind'' is not just a beautiful film, but a great piece of work, always moving, sometimes mesmerising. It is certainly one of the best I have seen in a while. It is remarkably positive that spells out the triumph of human spirit in the face of extreme adversity. It celebrates life, as it does the ultimate victory of love.
Well written, exquisitely directed and superbly acted, ``A Beautiful Mind'' tells the story of John Nash, the Nobel Prize winning mathematics genius, who, despite his 70-odd years, still walks every day to his campus in Princeton University in the U.S. His unbelievable resilience and will power helped him to overcome not only his social awkwardness and arrogance but also a disease as debilitating as schizophrenia.
Nash's pure genius (which got him the Nobel Prize in 1994 for ``pioneering analysis of equilibria in the theory of non-cooperative games'' basically, the application of mathematical formulas to decision-making) and conviction were certainly instrumental in his fight against paranoia, hallucinations and delusions, the devastating symptoms of schizophrenia.
But his wife, Alicia (who falls in love with him, her professor, during her university days and endures the disappointment and frustration of being his wife during the dark days of his illness), proves that affection and support are as important for a fallen man to get up and walk again.
In fact, it is Alicia who first teaches him gently what is real, and what is not. In one of the finest scenes, she takes John's hand and places it on her cheek, and tells him, ``now this is the truth...'' Nash himself admits it publicly during the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm, when he traces the secret of his triumph to his wife. ``In the mysterious equations of love, one can find logical reasons,'' he concludes even as he takes out of his pocket a handkerchief, which the young Alicia had given him during their courtship.
Alicia is wonderfully portrayed by Jennifer Connelly, now in the race for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. With the right mix of mischief and mellowness, she plays a woman torn between the memory of a man who was once charming in a unique kind of way and a mad genius, whose affliction and despair drive him to almost kill his own baby.
Russell Crowe is just marvellous as John Nash, intelligent and impressive, and yet socially inept and strangely weird. He is subdued in a dramatic sort of fashion, a man obsessed with finding a truly original idea. Nash's transformation from a clumsy youth to a tottering, bumbling old man has been depicted with a rare sense of fortitude.
The question now is, will Crowe walk away with the Best Actor Oscar for which he has been nominated? He has a strong contender in Denzel Washington, who has also done a splendid job as a corrupt police officer in ``Training Day.''
There may be, however, considerations other than strictly talent guiding the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on March 24. There are three black actors vying for the top honours: Will Smith in ``Ali'' and Halle Berry in ``Monster's Ball''. With the focus this time on the question of race, the Academy may be in a dilemma.
But a larger issue is the unjustified criticism against ``A Beautiful Mind.'' It has been accused of brushing under the carpet Nash's alleged anti-Jew statements, homosexuality and infidelity. These admittedly do not find a place in Howard's work.
So what? The director and the scriptwriter have chosen to highlight some aspects of the wizard, and they have every right to use this freedom, this artistic licence, as long as they do it responsibly. After all, ``A Beautiful Mind'' is not a documentary. It is a piece of fiction, which has incidentally drawn upon the life of the mathematics genius. This is perfectly right and fair. ``A Beautiful Mind'' elevated me, absolutely. How many movies do that now?
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