Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Beautiful Mind

We follow Jennifer Connelly over to hr Oscar winning performance as Alice Nash in 2002’s A Beautiful Mind.

A Beautiful Mind is a fictionalized account of the life of mathematician John Nash, a brilliant mathematician suffering from delusional psychosis. A Beautiful Mind is not a literal biography of Nash, but rather an often surreal presentation of events seen through Nash’s mentally disturbed mind. The film has been criticized in certain quarters for utilizing this method of storytelling, but I think it adds, rather than takes away from Nash’s story.

It is difficult to present metal illness o screen without being exploitive. Witness my complaint about the failures of presenting brain damage earnestly in Regarding Henry, for example. A Beautiful Mind stands in stark contrast to Regarding Henry in terms of effectively putting us in the shoes of a mental illness sufferer. Because that is what the narrative literally does with increasing awareness something is not right with what wear seeing.

The reality of the story is neither exploitive or sensational. It is, in fact, a realistic love story between John and Alice, who have to deal with the no win situation of tolerating the side effects of Nash’s medical treatment or suffering through the consequences of not doing so for the sake of Nash maintaining some semblance of his genius and humanity.

Beforehand, I would have said Russell Crowe was a peculiar choice to play Nash, but he comes through with the role splendidly. The performances all around are great, from Paul Bellamy as ash’s “roommate” at Princeton to Ed Harris’ federal agent contact for Nash, and Connelly’s performance. As I said above, she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. I hate to take anything away from her here, but I suspect her win was one of those compensation wins for overlooking her in more deserving roles in the past.

A Beautiful Mind is a good film, but not a great one. I wad dragged off to see it my first year of law school when other classmates who had done nothing but rave about the film for weeks were appalled I had not seen what had apparently replaced Citizen Kane as the greatest cinematic masterpiece of all time. I enjoyed it, ye, but still cannot quite rate it as highly as many of my friends do.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

1 comment:

  1. It was surprisingly good, especially considering how risky it was to romanticize schizophrenia in that absurd way. I found it very moving how his old rival made a place for him at Princeton so he could work as much as possible. Although the scene at the end with the fountain pens was schmalzy, it won me over altogether.

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