Irrational Numbers
A Beautiful Mind
Review by Ross Anthony

The film begins with momentum. Young mathematics geniuses attend competitive graduate classes at a prestigious university. Russell Crowe plays John Nash (the real life subject of this story). Somewhat socially undeveloped, with little time for small talk, he speaks his beautiful mind directly, indulging in effectively jagged sarcasm towards the local favored scholar. While the others complete their courses and publish works, Nash pencils theories and conjectures on the A Beautiful MindVictorian windows of the university library. Solitarily disregarding standard student responsibilities, Nash studies the movements of pigeons or strategies of boys hitting on women -- searching for that one sweet original idea.

All too soon, Nash finds a workable postulate and graduates into a research professorship at the lab/university of his choosing where he becomes involved with top secret government decoding and a young college coed. The humor of his rough-edged socializing and courting make a much more interesting film than that which "Beautiful Mind" actually becomes ... and that would be a psychological thriller.

Taking a few lighter tangents from its foci, the film teases the audience with wonderful scenes of this nature: Nash reluctantly stumbles into a calculus class that he feels somehow forced to teach. His first day commentary, "This class will be a waste of your, and what is infinitely worse, my, time." After which he lazily slides the textbook off the podium into the trash. Unfortunately, fresh moments like this slip to the back of the class.

Then, dabbling with a mostly fresh and original romance (though a hokie starlit scene seeps in), "Beautiful Mind" begins settling into the psychological thriller it eventually decides to be. Is Nash really working for the FBI operative played by Ed Harris, or is Nash delusional? Though all perform marvelously, the eventual focus is so vastly different from the light and quirky first act, many viewers may feel disoriented by the switch in genre and lose interest in the film as a whole.

An interesting quote from director Ron Howard, "There's an element of danger with an number of these actors - especially Russell Crowe, Ed Harris and Christopher Plummer. They project an unpredictably and volatility that might surprise people in a movie perceived as human interested or intellectual. There's always a palpable, visceral tension with them onscreen."

  • A Beautiful Mind. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, Adam Goldberg, Judd Hirsch, Josh Luscas, Anthony Rapp, Christopher Plummer.
  • Directed by Ron Howard.
  • Written by Akiva Goldsman.
  • Produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard at Universal/DreamWorks/Imagine.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:18:51 PDT