A Beautiful Mind (2001) Review

Josh Nash was a truly brilliant mathematician who must attempt to control his mind in order to complete his work. After being diagnosed by schizophrenia it could then destroy everything he has worked hard to achieve.

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We follow John Nash’s life from 1947 when he first arrives at Princeton University on a Scholarship for mathematics alongside Martin Hansen. He is determined to come up with something that is truly his idea and because of that doesn’t actually attend any classes. Which leaves him with the big possibility of not actually having a placement and working at a higher level. Until a breakthrough of course and this is something that he then screws Hansen over by not choosing him as well. His roommate Charles Herman often encouraging rather terrible decisions in his life.

William Parcher approached Nash with a mysterious nature and a highly classified assignment on behalf of the United States Department of Defense, to complete this he had to look for hidden patterns and magazines to uncover any Soviet plots against the United States. This consumes him and he becomes obsessed with it and quickly becomes convinced that he is being followed. On meeting Alicia Larde who was one of his students they fall in love and at that point you really think that his focus will change. That is not to be the case however when Charles and his niece Marcee arrive and convince him to marry Alicia.

His paranoia continued to grow and after a guest lecture at Harvard he is surrounding by people he believes are Soviet agents and but this is not actually try they are led by Dr. Rosen a psychiatrist and he is sedated and committed to the facility. The truly outstanding and amazing thing is up to this point as a viewer we had no real idea what was really happening to him and what was actually in his mind due to the schizophrenia. I felt that was the truly perfect way to present the story. I certainly believed that he was a spy for the US and that he had to watch out for anyone from the Soviet Union. So on a first viewing you will not believe that Dr Rosen is a doctor to begin with and convinced he is Russian.

From that moment forward we learn which characters he has made up as friends/foes and this has been a big bias for a lot of the decisions within his life, at least up until this point. It was very tough to watch especially when you see how many pills he was then given and the awful procedures he was also put through. You cannot help but feel sorry for Alicia who is attempting to raise their son whilst also support her husband. Nash’s attempts to be rid of these “people” was quite frankly to ignore them and never speak to them again. We see that he can still see them but not acknowledging them keeps the power on his side. I found that a very powerful method to attempt to show how someone with schizophrenia might feel or see things.

We then see from the 1970s all the way to 1994 when Nash is awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on game theory. Over those decades though we see him work very hard to be allowed to teach again, this is actually supported by Martin Hansen who holds no grudges about the relationship between the pair many years before.

The film won four Oscars, Best Picture, Best Actress in a Supporting role for Jennifer Connelly, Best Director for Ron Howard and Best Adapted Screenplay. Considering the film fully relied on Russell Crowe’s outstanding performance its quite crazy that he didn’t win an Oscar himself. Although with checking Denzel Washington won that year for Training Day. So I guess it was a very tough decision. I can understand why the film picked up the Best Picture though a biopic is always popular and given the nature of the mental illness within the film those films do very well.

It captures many emotions and you have to give it to Russell Crowe as his character ages so much over the course of the film that he has to adapt to that which would not have been the easiest task at all. I thought the support from Paul Bettany and Ed Harris was fantastic especially given the nature of those characters. I wasn’t blown away by Connelly but I guess the scene where she screamed and broke the mirror was enough to win the Oscar? Christopher Plummer and Josh Lucas also being involved in some very good scenes.

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