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A Favorite Revisited: A Beautiful Mind (2001)

 

I don’t know why, but I had an intense yearning to revisit this movie and evaluate it, (or maybe yet, I wanted to feel rejuvenated and motivated for another project…)  The first time I had seen the film, I had watched it primarily for Jennifer Connelly. Nevertheless, I had loved it and considered it a beautiful, inspiring work of film. Re-watching it now, I am only reminded as to why this remains to be one of my most favorite films.

(Reading this off the back of the DVD due to laziness, jk): Winner of 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture, A Beautiful Mind is directed by Academy Award winner Ron Howard and produced by his long-time partner, Academy Award winner Brian Grazer. A Beautiful Mind stars Russell Crowe in an astonishing performance as the brilliant and late, real-life mathematician John Nash, on the brink of international acclaim when he becomes entangled in a mysterious conspiracy and a nightmarish self-discovery. Now, only his devoted wife (Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly) can help him in this powerful story of courage, passion, and triumph.
…. Well, that’s a lot of Oscars mentioned. Regardless of the self-praising, it’s a decent summary without spoilers, (which is why I opted to use that summary for this review.) Although it may seem a bit vague and bland, Trust me, if the summary included the big, bad spoilers, I’m sure it’d draw viwers right in.

“Classes will dull your mind, destroy the potential for authentic creativity.”

A Beautiful Mind remains a personal favorite of mine for many reasons. Among these many

Our lovely leading lady ( Jennifer Connelly)

reasons includes the acting. The acting featured in the film is phenomenal by far; it’s realistic, yet passionate and dramatic. Russell Crowe’s performance astounds me as an asocial, yet arrogant mathematician that gradually spirals into a state of terrorizing degradation. This was my first time watching Crowe act and I was blown away by the depth of detail the actor places into the character of Nash (can’t wait to catch him in Gladiator). As for the lovely Jennifer Connelly, all I can say is that after watching her role as a strong, confident, and reassuring Alicia, I really wish she was given more film roles! Connelly really showed me how Alicia suffered yet remained by her husband’s side, intent on helping him no matter how bad the circumstances had become.  Connelly showed me the definition of a wife and husband believing in and being there for one another. Best of all, there was actual chemistry between the stars, (lol). In addition to Crowe and Connelly, the supporting roles of Paul Bettany and Christopher Plummer were well cast.

A romance begins…

Positive number two: the photography. Howard chose to film the majority of the film in a sepia-tinted color, which definitely adds warmth and reminiscence, (if I were born in the 40s), to the film. Furthermore, I noticed while watching A Beautiful Mind that there were scenes which appeared to have a color swap with the previous scene. An example would be the scene, (or even angle/cut), randomly darkening, giving off a gloomy vibe. While this may pass through the average viewer, Howard placed this tactic for a clever reason. Considering this is a spoiler-free review, let’s just say that the color switches often depict different emotions….

“I need to believe, that something extraordinary is possible.”

Positive number three: the music. Composed by the late James Horner, you can automatically guess the instrumental tracks featured in the film were fantastic. Horner manages to create music that encapsulates the flutter of emotions possible to man—the very uprising and downfalls of one’s life experience. A bit of advice? Listen to kaleidoscope of mathematics—shatters your mind.

Code breaking

Last positive aspect: the motivation and inspiration the story of Nash invokes from the audience. Personally, whenever I’m lacking in confidence and motivation, this film never fails to flip the coin of perspective to other side and awaken a sense of inspiration  in regards to working harder to achieve one’s goals and aspirations. The music in combination with the story-line and the characters solicits a feeling of determination and accomplishment from its audience. Although the plot itself is about a mathematician, Howard does not focus on the aspects of math; he knows it’d bore and confuse his audience. Howard instead focuses on Nash’s character and the disheartening struggle he faces that strips him of his notorious status, and his willingness to reclaim it once more.  Howard does an excellent job of illustrating Nash’s real-life hardships and his commitment to overcome them. The audience is able to see how Nash was completely knocked down to the very abyss of the Earth—yet he is able to rise up once more through persistence, diligence, and love. The message of the film is a memorable one that resonates with the audience.

“Find a truly original idea. It is the only way I will ever distinguish myself. It is the only way I will ever matter.”

Hard-knock life for a professor

As with every film, unfortunately I’ll have to discuss the negative aspects. Luckily for this one, there’s only two. I think one main aspect that stood out to me was the murky focus towards the beginning of the film. I know A Beautiful Mind is based off a biography by Sylvia Nasar about John Nash, however, I felt as Howard could’ve made the focus of the film a bit clearer, (again, only towards the beginning!)

The other negative aspect was the historical inaccuracy in regards to Nash’s life. Howard has stated the film was not meant to be taken literally. After all, I could see how if he were to include everything about Nash, the focus would stray further away. However, there were a few important events in Nash’s life that Howard should’ve included or at least alluded to…

“Man is capable of as much atrocity as he has imagination.”

All in all, A Beautiful Mind is an amazing film that remains to be one of my most favorites. From the acting to the plot-line to the music, everything is exceptional. But most importantly, it really is a film that stays with you—that inspires you to go on no matter how vile the circumstances may be in one’s life. I highly recommend this beauty!

Rating: PG-13

Time: 2 hrs. 16 min

Final Verdict: A

 

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