A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Directed by Ron Howard
Based on the novel “A Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar
Screenplay by Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Paul Bettany
John Nash (Crowe) is one of the most brilliant mathematicians and cryptographers of his generation. When he takes a high-pressure job working for the government, he begins a downward spiral that changes the course of his life.
This film is based on the true story of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics and professor at Yale University. His story was originally captured in the novel “A Beautiful Mind” which was written by Sylvia Nasar. The novel was adapted for the film by Akiva Goldsman (The Client) with Ron Howard (Backdraft) taking on the project as director. For their work Howard and Goldsman both won Oscars. Howard for Best Director, and Goldsman for Best Adapted Screenplay. In addition to these wins, the film also took home Best Picture. Russell Crowe (Gladiator) stars in this film alongside Ed Harris (The Hours), Jennifer Connelly (Mulholland Falls), Christopher Plummer (The Insider), and Paul Bettany (The DaVinci Code).
This film is wonderfully written, providing a unique approach to the subject of mental illness. Thanks to this unique approach the movie slowly builds into an intense experience that plays perfectly. This isn’t a thriller, but it uses some of the thriller techniques to bring out the gravity of certain situations. The film also allows the actors some unique opportunities to bring out the unique characteristics of their roles. This is not just done through the great dialogue, but also through the physical demands of the roles. Thankfully this film doesn’t forget that it’s a drama at heart and it pays off like a drama should. It’s a great example of bringing art and biography together without losing track of the story at the center of it all.The acting in this film is wonderful. Russell Crowe does an excellent job transforming his character throughout the movie. The story spans more than 45 years, and Crowe finds the right ways to adapt his performance to show that passage of time. He also puts together a performance that acknowledges the depths of the mental illness his character is battling. His work earned him critical praise and a Best Actor nomination. He’s paired up with great actors like Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris. Each of these actors does a great job with their roles as well. Connelly does a really nice job bringing out the frustration, fear, and desperation of a loving wife. Her powerful performance earned her an Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress. Ed Harris also does a good job with his hard-hitting role. His performance really plays off of the insecurity and softer nature of Crowe’s character. Christopher Plummer and Paul Bettany also do nice work with their roles in this film. The success of this movie doesn’t end there. The entire cast helps to bring this one to life.There are a number of visuals tricks and technique that have been used to portray mental illness on film. Thankfully Ron Howard and cinematographer Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men) avoided them altogether. The straightforward approach was possible thanks to the excellent screenplay. In addition, the film was put together nicely and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing. In addition, the film uses great costuming, sets, and locations throughout. The film was also nominated for Best Makeup. Outside of the visuals the film also features an Oscar-nominated score by James Horner (Titanic).This is a unique movie that found a great way to address the issues within the story. It runs a little over two hours, but the pace helps to keep things moving nicely. The style that the story uses to address the issues of the characters might not work for everyone. In all the film was nominated for eight Oscars, winning four. If you’re a fan of emotional dramas this is one you should see. I would also recommend this to fans of any of the stars. This might also be of interest for fans of biographical films. I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.Rating: PG-13Running Time: 135 Minutes