A Beautiful Mind -- **** (out of 5) (2001)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer, Paul Bettany
Directed By Ron Howard
Three years, three Oscar-worthy performances for Russell Crowe, who won it in 2000 for his role as Maximus Meridus in GLADIATOR. Crowe deserved and received another nomination with his incredible performance with this one, and although eventually losing to Denzel Washington for TRAINING DAY, it's still an incredible piece of work. A BEAUTIFUL MIND also marks a return to form for director Ron Howard, who spent the previous five years filming such popular pieces as EdTV and THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS, and comes back to show why he is one of the better directors working in Hollywood today.
A BEAUTIFUL MIND is based on the true story of John Nash, a mathematical genius that dazzled Princeton early in his career with a breakthrough theory, becoming one of the most respected up-and-coming thinkers of our times. Soon, his ability to see patterns in numbers makes him one of the world's best natural code-breakers, and Nash is recruited to help save the United States from the Soviet Union's plans to exterminate us. Slowly the stress begins to get to Nash, and when he finally breaks down he awakens to discover that no one believes his story. Is it real or just a delusion in the mind of a schizophrenic genius?
With the exception of some overly-emotional and contrived lapses near the end of the film, A BEAUTIFUL MIND is a skillfully crafted and riveting tale unlike any other on the scene today. While other films exhort the brawn of the hero, this hero uses his mind, and even without much in the way of conventional action, this film still delivers just as many thrills. Ron Howard does a stellar job transforming Sylvia Nasar's book into a visually terrific tale, especially when you consider what dubious talent he had to work with (screenwriter Akiva Goldsman's recent films were the critically lambasted LOST IN SPACE and BATMAN & ROBIN.) The film is also greatly aided from an outstanding score by James Horner (TITANIC, BRAVEHEART) that heightens the mood to deliver the right emotional punch whenever necessary.
A BEAUTIFUL MIND is one of 2001's best films, and highly recommended for all. It's an unlikely story of an unlikely person, and it's amazing how entertaining it is considering what it's all about. Worth the price of admission alone for watching a writer and director at the peak of their form, but this one also delivers an inspiring tale and hope for others who may be suffering from their own inner demons, whether imaginary or not.
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