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A Beautiful Mind

Directed By : Ron Howard
Starring : Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, Paul Bettany, Ed Harris.

Russell Crowe - Actor. Russell Crowe - Celebrity. Discuss.

Make no mistake, this project is a brave, brave move on behalf of Ron Howard. While his films are successful, it’s very rare to talk to anyone who’ll mention him in the same breath as Spielberg, Scorcese or Coppola. So, the very fact that he decided to tell a story with it’s roots in math's and schizophrenia, which wouldn’t usually strike most popcorn guzzling filmgoers as prime blockbuster material, shows a great belief in his own skills.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Russell Crowe in the lead role. Aside from Tom Cruise (who, incidentally was first choice for this role until Vanilla Sky took up his time), it’s hard to think of an actor with such a high profile. The women, the vanity band side-project, the poem-spouting at the Bafta’s....all of it would mean nothing if he wasn’t such a bloody good actor. To watch him portray John Nash from the age of 19 until his mid seventies (albeit with the aid of some slightly
questionable make-up) is an absolute marvel. To be fair, during the early scenes at Princeton University, Crowe does look older than the late-teenager he is meant to be. But only facially - the nervous tics of adolescence, the self awareness that he doesn’t fit in (because of his
as-yet undiagnosed illness) - it’s all there. But I don’t need to tell you about Crowe’s acting ability. You don’t get nominated for Oscars in three successive years unless you’re doing something right.

The film really takes flight after Nash’s graduation. He begins work for a college campus that has infrequent links with the US Department of Defence, which brings him into contact with William Parcher (Ed Harris), a government operative who tells Nash that he is the most gifted code breaker he has ever seen and assigns him the task of scanning magazines and newspapers for hidden codes and messages. Around this time, Nash falls in love and marries Alicia (Jennifer Connolly), a former student. And then the wheels really come off, as he fights to protect his family from his work and the
increasing danger he is finding himself in.

It would do the movie an injustice to go into any more depth about the plot twists and turns, but I should point out that I believe Ron Howard has the single finest moment of his career about an hour or so into the film, when you become aware that you are not watching the movie you thought you had been watching. It’s an astonishingly well handled shift, that could have been contrived and hackneyed. In this case it is perfectly judged and forces the audience to re-evaluate what they have
seen, which has the nice side effect of getting their brains working for the final hour of the movie.

Much has been made of the ‘accuracy’ of the film and I don’t intend to talk about that here. As a movie, it serves it purpose beautifully.  Deserving of it’s Oscar nominations, I would expect to see this carry away a fair share of the ‘main five’ awards.
And from the man who wrote ‘Batman and Robin’ too!

Rating ........8/10

Sean G