A Beautiful Mind – Review
A few nights ago, I was able to cross another big title off my list — A Beautiful Mind. I knew it had won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2001, and that Jennifer Connelly took home the award for Best Supporting Actress. However, I had heard mixed things from different people. Some said the movie was truly outstanding, while others indicated that they were somewhat underwhelmed.
After finally seeing it for myself, I am agreeing with the former. A Beautiful Mind was an excellent film all the way through. It was criticized by some for not being historically accurate, but the filmmakers were not really going for that — they were going for a touching movie that stayed true to the basic emotional and inspirational aspects of John Forbes Nash’s story.
Anyway, to state it briefly, A Beautiful Mind is about the brilliant economist John Nash (Russell Crowe), and how he struggles against hallucinations caused by schizophrenia. Nash’s principle hallucinations, as depicted by the film, are government agent William Parcher (the always great Ed Harris) — who makes Nash think that he is helping the United States in a battle against the Soviet Union by looking for patterns in newspapers and magazines — a grad-school roommate named Charles (Paul Bettany, Connelly’s real-life husband), and Charles’s make-believe niece. Nash’s condition takes its toll on his wife, Alicia (Connelly), as well as his family and friends. What makes things worse is that his subsequent medication limits the capabilities of his gifted mind, so his hallucinations return when he stops taking his pills. After his relapse just about pushes Alicia to the edge, Nash finally realizes — without medication — that he is mentally ill, as he sees that his projection of Charles’s niece never looks older despite the passage of several years.
Nash, while never completely ridding himself of his hallucinations, learns to ignore them, and goes on to become a teacher again, with the support of his old friendly rival, Martin Hansen (Josh Lucas). Also, as hard-core economists would know, Nash wins the Nobel Prize in Economics for his development of game theory.
What makes this movie so great — besides the great acting (Connelly deserved her award and Crowe was terrific as always, garnering an Oscar nomination) and direction (Ron Howard won the Academy Award) — is how the story takes you down pretty low from an emotional standpoint before bringing you back up by the end. Midway through the movie, I found myself very invested emotionally with regards to both Nash and his wife. It was hard to watch Nash struggle so much and go through his relapses, but that made his ability to ultimately overcome his condition that much more emotionally satisfying.
Now, I understand some of the criticism with the lack of historical accuracy (perhaps the biggest thing is that Nash didn’t actually have visual hallucinations; he just heard voices), but since I am not really a history geek or a Nash-worshiping economist, I didn’t have an issue. I didn’t really know much about the true story beforehand, so I just wanted to enjoy the movie for what it was. And what it was was an excellent film. If you like emotional, well-crafted dramas, and you somehow haven’t seen this in the ten years it’s been out (like myself prior to a few nights ago), then do yourself a favor and see this one as soon as you can.
Tommy D’s Score: 3.75 stars (out of 4)