John Nash (Russell Crowe) a gifted mathematics student arrives in Princeton in 1947 determined to put forward an original revolutionary maths theory. He is a little eccentric, obsessive about his work and finds it hard to relate to his fellow students on a social level. He doesn’t attend the classes but works alone trying to find the one big idea that will make him a success. Nash hits the jackpot and is given a top research post where he meets the beautiful Alicia (Jennifer Connelly). Nash starts to help the military with code breaking but he starts to show signs of anxiety, paranoia and general mental instability…
This drama is based on the true-life story of mathematics genus Dr. John Nash who produced revolutionary maths theories but has to battle with the curse of schizophrenia. If, like me, the mere mention of figures has you reaching for the calculator don’t worry as the film is about the person and not the mathematics. In fact the story is exceptional well told and is interesting from start to finish. The story is told in such a way that complete understanding doesn’t happen all at once. There are a few surprises along the way that will make you think back to the start of the film and it is only then that things fall into place. There’s also a lot of humour in the film and even in the darker moments of madness some humour is allowed. “…What’s the point in being mad if you can’t have a little fun with it…?”
Russell Crowe’s performance is exceptional. As Nash he has to portray many different characteristics; the social ineptitude, the nervous laugh and gestures, his obsession with work, his paranoia, anxiety, stubbornness, fear and brilliance. This is a very demanding role in which Russell Crowe shines. The makeup department also deserve a mention, as Russell Crowe’s transformation from young to old is one of the most convincing I have seen.
Jennifer Connelly’s performance as Nash’s wife, Alicia, is also exceptional. Alicia’s commitment and love for Nash helps him battle his mental illness and Jennifer Connelly portrays this in a very real and convincing way without “weepy” sentimentality.
There is also good support from Ed Harris as the shady government agent Parcher, Paul Bettany as Nash’s room-mate, Josh Lucas as rival mathematician and Christopher Plummer as his psychiatrist.
Lasting thought: Some brilliant gifts come with a curse.