From Math To Madness and Back: ‘A Beautiful Mind’ #Movie Review

Posted on January 11, 2013 in Culture-Vulture

By Shruti Kesavan:

Have you ever wanted to truly get motivated and jump off your seat, shake off all the sorrow gently bestowed upon you and start afresh? Ever wondered how great men become what they are? If yes, then this movie is hand crafted for you. Here comes a humble true story of the not so well known John Nash who laid the very basis of governing dynamics. A truly inspirational 130 minutes of “A Beautiful Mind” takes you into the surreal journey of joy, recognition, achievement, betrayal and most importantly the value of love and family surpassing the rest.


Directed by Ron Howard, this movie is sure to pull you in, in all the raw emotions beautifully put across by Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, and Christopher Plummer. The movie has drawn its motivation from the book named ‘The Essential John Nash‘ written by Sylvia Nasar which was also nominated for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize. This movie was released in 2001 but I would still encourage you to see it simply because unlike other movies which revolve around love, money and other materialistic aspects of life, this movie has something else to offer. Firstly it would be one of the very few movies which do not portray someone with a mental disorder as someone who is drooling or wetting their pants but the approach used in this film suggests that they are nothing different from us. We are simply just not alike. Secondly its doesn’t portray a sad picture of how he is forced to die or how he just jumps off a cliff, instead he wins the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for the work he did in Princeton in the late 1940’s.

The movie sheds light on the slightly eccentric young man, who is clumsy, unfriendly and a genius to say the least. ‘A Beautiful Mind’, in terms of the screenplay catches the keen sense of emotion we would want to relate to Mr. Nash as an audience, his deep desire to be recognised and his in-depth need to belong in a land he is far from being aware of. He also brings into the limelight his famous “window art” and rather new techniques of flirting. The movie is essentially divided into four stages namely the physical, the metaphysical the delusional and back. Each stage has something the viewer can relate to and something to take back home and remember for a long time to come. As you seem to ease into the pace of the movie you seem to realize the fact that he, not finding his “original idea” starts showing slight signs of his temper, his shattering ego and silent calls for help as it were the very beginning of his mental illness.

You seem to believe in his innocent charm that “all is well” as he marries the love of his life after she woos him after solving a difficult math equation (which he claims to be wrong). The climax comes when he starts working on a secret mission about which he needs to maintain high confidentiality. Slowly you see him decoding hidden information from the Russians who cleverly send their messages in the form of texts in newspapers and magazines. He works under the man who goes by the name William Parcher and is instructed to drop off his findings at a secret location (Wheller’s). This continues and you slowly begin to believe these cleverly put across ideas, which are only the artefacts of his “beautiful mind”. Then it is revealed that he is a victim of paranoid schizophrenia. Everything that you believed in the past hour seems to unfold as a lie and a cheap game played by his mind. His closest of friends Charles Herman and even William Parcher seem to be just characters of his delusional parallel world.

The actual story starts thereafter when you see the delicately woven love and affection between him and his wife Alicia where she’s shown standing by him literally through thick and thin. From taking him for his hospital sessions to working single handed for his family, you see her standing there like a rock for him, only redefining the lost meaning of true love which we have so conveniently forgotten. This is one such story which would restore your lost hopes in finding the silver lining in times of trouble. You also begin to love the character Martin (the same person who was his arch enemy at Princeton) who is also shown to be a true friend, someone who doesn’t seem to leave him in times of trouble.

He goes on to win the Nobel Prize and then delivers the best ‘thank you’ speech which is sure to bring tears in your eyes as there is a hidden part in all of us who enjoy the reunion of true love and triumph of the human spirit. From someone who had lost everything, from his job to the basic respect of a human being to overcoming his troubles and making his weakness his strength and setting an example of how to stand up every time life pushes you down.

For the first time you would see a positive response in terms of attitude towards the illness which would not only bring about awareness in people but also make them realize it is normal people like you and me who are affected by such disabilities.

On the downside, many facts were misinterpreted and some important milestones in his life were also ignored to make it more of a film where you would emotionally connect with Nash rather than critically analyse his situation. For instance, the movie avoids the fact that Nash was previously married to Elenor Stiers and had a child named John with her as well. He later went on to divorce her and leave his wife and child in poverty with no place to go. The timelines of when he actually started developing his illness also don’t seem to coincide. The reality seems to have been brushed away as it would be too much to comprehend in a two hour movie and hence only the rosy part is left behind for the audience to gather from.

All in all, if we would wish to ignore the facts and just want to admire art at its best and witness the triumph of the human spirit this would be worth your time and money, as this movie guarantees not to disappoint you.