A Beautiful Mind
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

Based on the true-life story of Nobel Prize winner John Forbes Nash Jr., A Beautiful Mind explores the depths of isolation that gifted people must struggle with. Nash, played by Russell Crowe, is a brilliant mathematician obsessed by the need to come up with at least one original idea that will impact the world. As with many people of genius, he doesn’t make a lot of friends. He’s simply living on a different plane of existence than the majority.

It’s not an easy life and has led many gifted people to alcohol and suicide. But many eventually find a way to deal with it. American writer Raymond Carver turned his isolation into an art form. Alcoholism, drugs, capitalism, and people’s own inabilities to reach out and touch someone isolate most Carver characters. Nash dealt with his isolation by inventing his own friends and life adventures until his delusional life took over his real life, and the few people that did care about him began to turn away.

But this is essentially a love story and how all it takes is one person to love you enough to believe in you. This one person was Nash’s wife Alicia (Jennifer Connelly).

When Nash lost his job and went under psychiatric care, she hung in there. It was also his love for her that gave him the strength to see his schizophrenia as a difficult mathematical problem. The great thing about math is that no matter how difficult the problem, it can always be solved.

This is a beautiful heart wrenching love story with a dynamic cast. Crowe does a superb job of portraying the isolation of this genius with the right balance of sadness, irony and humor. It’s particularly interesting that his invented best friend is an English Literature major at Princeton whose favorite writer is another tortured, isolated genius – D.H. Lawrence.

Connelly portrays the healing powers of a woman who loves her man enough to accept his unique eccentric ways. Not offended when Nash turns his marriage proposal into a mathematical problem, the audience realizes early on that this is a woman that can go the distance. What’s interesting is how she continues to find unique ways of touching this man who is so hard to touch. But in the end it is that touch that means more than the Nobel Prize.

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