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A Beautiful Mind (2001)

He saw the world in a way no one could have imagined

Directed by:

Ron HowardRon Howard

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 135 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A


I deliberately watched ‘A Beautiful Mind’ without doing any prior research into the story of its subject, John Nash. And, for the record, it’s not because I couldn’t be bothered. Well, not just that, anyway.

We all know that Hollywood has a tendency to skew real life. Whenever you read the caption “based on a true story” you can generally assume the “based on” part carries substantially more resonance than the “true” part. So the fact that this Ron Howard-directed biopic of a Nobel Prize-winner turns out to be pretty darn far-fetched hopefully doesn’t detract too much from what is in essence a very good film.

Kicking off in 1947, the movie charts Nash’s remarkable rise to honours at Princeton University (he was an incredible mathematician – didn’t need a calculator or anything!), followed by his spiralling collapse into paranoia (he thought Red Commie swines were on his tail). In-between it all there’s a blossoming – if slightly unorthodox – romance with one of his students (Jennifer Connelly), lots of highly “confidential” work for the Government, and a highly convincing imaginary friend.

The string of gongs this movie picked up in 2002 included Oscars for Best Supporting Actress, Best Director and Best Picture. To me that seems a little excessive, especially given the at-times clunky screenplay and overly-melodramatic closing third. But what really lifts it way above the average is Russell Crowe’s outstanding display in the lead role. I’ve never been a fan of the seemingly self-enforced macho exterior Crowe prides himself on in the likes of ‘Gladiator’ or ‘Master and Commander’, but after seeing his performance in this one I’ve developed a quiet respect for his indisputable acting ability. If only he would exercise the versatility of his talent more often…

It's Got: A trip to the loony-bin.

It Needs: A straitjacket.

DVD Extras A double-disc extravaganza, featuring a choice of commentary from either Ron Howard or screenwriter Akiva Goldman, deleted scenes, production notes, cast and crew info, ten – that’s TEN – featurettes, and a couple of trailers. DVD Extras Rating: 10/10


Flowers for Algernon, Rain Man


Calling it a “Beautiful” Mind seems a tad self-indulgent – but it’s certainly a bloody good one.