It was late the night I put this movie in the DVD player, and I wasn’t going to watch the whole thing. But even though it’s not the most action-packed movie ever made, A Beautiful Mind is an extremely gripping movie. As it got later and later (or earlier and earlier in the morning), I kept thinking, “I should really turn this off and go to bed,” but I just couldn’t. I needed to know what happened to John Nash.
So what’s the story? John Nash is a genius mathematician from West Virginia. He doesn’t fit in with all the other Princeton graduate students, mostly because he is completely asocial. He makes a great mathematic breakthrough and gets a job at MIT with the Department of Defense. He meets and marries Alicia, but the top-secret decryption project he’s working on suddenly takes a dark turn.
The Good: The acting was superb. I haven’t seen a lot of Russell Crowe’s movies, and I wasn’t expecting much from him in A Beautiful Mind, mostly because what I’ve seen him in lately is clips from Les Miserables (no, I haven’t seen the whole thing yet, because I don’t want to watch it). Anyway, Russell Crowe became John Nash. I’m always impressed when actors can play a person with a mental disability without overacting. I loved his performance. The supporting cast was great, too. Paul Bettany as Charles, John’s crazy-fun roommate; Jennifer Connelly as John’s wife, Alicia; Ed Harris as John’s government contact; Adam Goldberg, Josh Lucas, and Anthony Rapp as John’s mathematician colleagues; and Christopher Plummer as Dr. Rosen, John’s psychiatrist are all wonderful. I don’t think any of the roles could have been easy to play, but all of the actors did very well.
The costume design was well done, especially since the year in which something happened was rarely given. The clothes were a clue to how many years had passed, and I was very thankful for that. The makeup was good, too. The stars were aged well. I didn’t much care for John Nash’s old look, but that’s because he looked uncomfortably like someone I know, and I couldn’t get past that. But everyone looked definitely, believably older (unlike the people in Giant, which is still my baseline of terribleness when it comes to aging in movies).
The screenplay was good. John Nash’s story could not have been an easy one to tell without giving too much away, but the writers did an excellent job.
The Bad: The music was beautiful, but there were some moments when James Horner copied his own music. At the very beginning of the movie, the music sounded exactly like the music from Sneakers, which I wasn’t even aware James Horner had scored. I had to look it up to be sure. Later on, there are bits from Titanic, which has a brilliant score. It makes me sad that someone who is as obviously talented as James Horner reuses his own stuff.
The Ugly: There wasn’t anything ugly in A Beautiful Mind. It’s a well-made movie that takes a hard topic and treats it sensitivity and tact. Ron Howard deserves major kudos for this movie.
Oscars Won: Best picture; best actress in a supporting role (Jennifer Connelly); best director; best screenplay, screenplay based on material previously produced or published.
Other Oscar Nominations: Best actor in a leading role (Russell Crowe); best film editing; best makeup; best music, original score.