After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.

Director: Ron Howard
Writers: Akiva Goldsman, Sylvia Nasar
Staring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris
Streaming: Amazon Prime
Release Date: January 4, 2002

I love a good recommendation. Credit to my therapist for telling me to watch A Beautiful Mind.

Ron Howard directs this decade-spacing drama following the life and tribulations of the brillant John Nash (Russell Crowe) and his wife, Alica (Jessica Connelly). A Beautiful Mind takes a traditional biopic template but blends deeper lessons involving mental health and accepting one’s past and flaws. It is a movie that does not have any stunning, standout features, but as a sum of all its parts, it is a clinically well-told story.

Crowe plays Nash and his performance in A Beautiful Mind made for his third straight Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Howard and the crew filmed A Beautiful Mind in sequential order so Crowe could follow the life path of Nash and evolve with the character. The style paid off and by the end there are multiple scenes of sad and happy tears.

Nash acknowledging his demons but choosing to not feed them is an important message, and the way Crowe portrays the eventual silent realization that the quiet method of ignoring them works best is his best work in the film.

The fixations in Nash’s mind that he learns to ignore appear mainly in the bodies of Charles (Paul Bettany) and Parcher (Ed Harris). Charles is the imaginary roommate in college that Nash used to bounce school and personal ideas off of and Parcher is the government agent who has hired him for a top-secret job. It is interesting when the reveal is made because Nash gets angry at those calling Parcher imaginative, but he gets most angry at himself when he discovers Charles was nothing but his own subconscious.

Before we end here, I think we need to talk about the decade Russell Crowe had at the start of the new millennium. We have Gladiator (2000) to kick it off, A Beautiful Mind (2001), Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World (2003), Cinderella Man (2005), 3:10 To Yuma (2007), and American Gangster (2007).

There are maybe a few things from A Beautiful Mind that don’t age great, the most being the puzzle pieces glowing up and flowing together while Nash is in his transcendent moods. It was a style for the time but now it appears a tad hokey.

One aspect that did not age poorly is Jennifer Connelly. Playing Alicia, she is the linchpin POV stand-in for the audience. Connelly emerges on the screen with a ton of confidence and looks great doing it. You see her grow tired, weary, worried but in the end she is heroic with the patience and love she showed Nash in her life. Her talk with Josh Lucas as Hansen seems all-to-real. There was real frustration combined with tried and true love.

And while she showed love in the movie towards Crowe’s character, Connelly legit fell in love with Paul Bettany on set and the two got married in 2003. They are still married to this day!

A Beautiful Mind was nominated for eight Academy Awards and it took home four. Ron Howard won Best Director, Jennifer Connelly was Best Supporting Actress, the writing crew won Best Adapted Screenplay and everyone helped in it winning Best Picture. A Beautiful Mind won over Gosford Farms, Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, In The Bedroom, and Moulin Rouge.

STANKO RATING: A (4.5/5 Stars)

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2 Comments »

  1. I too give credit to a therapist I once had who thought, and rightfully so, that A Beautiful Mind was inspirational in conquering my own nightmares with mental illness and false realities. Thank you for your article.

    Liked by 1 person

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