Saturday, April 19, 2014

Best Picture: "A Beautiful Mind," 2001


Note: In case you’re wondering why it took me so long to review this flick, I waited nearly a month for it to come in at the library. I was the #3 hold on just one copy. Hopefully this will be the last delay & I’ll be finishing up this series by the end of June.

Movie Stats:
Released 2001 (USA)
American, in English
Director – Ron Howard
Stars – Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, plus a dozen other actors you’ll recognize

Plot Summary:
It’s essentially a biography of Nobel prize-winning American mathematician John Nash (Crowe). Connelly co-stars as his wife, Alicia.

None. It may have some blue language but if it did, it’s so mild that I didn’t even notice.

Bad Stuff:
It’s dull as dishwater.

Normally, I don’t mind spoilers but I have to wonder if already knowing the “big reveal” of this movie made it difficult to get swept up in it. I knew that Nash is mentally ill. As soon as he was recruited to be a cryptographer, I knew he was hallucinating. Therefore, that part of the movie held no suspense for me. In fact, it felt like it dragged on forever.

Conversely, I thought the stuff that was more interesting was overlooked in favor of trying to play up the suspense. I could have done with more scenes of Nash and his wife coming to terms with his mental illness. I also thought the part where he realized that he would have to give up his best friend (college roommate Charles – played by Paul Bettany – who was a hallucination all along) forever was very poignant and could have been better explored.

Also, it drove me nuts that, at the beginning of the film, Crowe was obviously too old for the part he was playing. In 1947, when the movie began, Nash was 19. At the time of filming, Crowe was probably 36. I know I’m being nitpicky but if you know me at all, you’ll know that I tend to get hung up on this kind of stuff.

Good Stuff:
Age problems aside, I thought that Crowe was very good. He’s not one of my favorite actors. I feel like most of the roles he takes, any decent actor could play. Occasionally, however, he’s brilliant. This was one of those times. I found him very believable.

The movie did fool me in regards to Charles. I didn’t get that he was a hallucination until the psychologist (Dr. Rosen, played by Christopher Plummer) told Nash so in the mental hospital.

The Verdict:
This movie has always been high on my list of “movies I have virtually no interest in.” However, even though my expectations were low, I was still underwhelmed. I just don’t think it was especially well done. Still, I’m going to give it a slight benefit of the doubt. I do find the central story – a man struggling to overcome mental illness – intriguing. I thought the portrayal of mental illness was done fairly well, based on my own past experience with mentally ill persons. I was also intrigued by the idea that not all of Nash’s hallucinations were bad (another point I wish would have been better explored). Perhaps it would have seemed better/more engaging if I’d seen it back when it came out, before I’d had a chance to be spoiled about it.

I give the movie 2.75 stars.


Patricia said...

Leaving Paul Bettany behind is one of two things I remember about the film. It was so incredibly sad. Plus, I really like that actor. I also remember when they implanted that thing in his arm. It was creepy.

I think I didn't know that he was hallucinating when I saw it, so it was a pretty good reveal for me. But I still couldn't figure out why people were so ga-ga over this film.

balyien said...

I really like Paul Bettany as well. I always get excited when I see his name in the credits for Iron Man/Avengers movies and then I remember he's just the voice of Jarvis and I feel disappointed, haha.

The device implantation was pretty creepy/gross but that's what really tipped it off as a hallucination to me. I knew there was no way it could be real.