View Date: December 29, 2001


Russell Crowe John Forbes Nash
Ed Harris William Parcher
Jennifer Connelly Alicia Nash
Paul Bettany Charles
Adam Goldberg Sol
Vivien Cardone Marcee
Judd Hirsch Helinger
Josh Lucas Hansen
Anthony Rapp Bender
Christopher Plummer Dr. Rosen

Directed by:
Ron Howard 

Written by:
Sylvia Nasar (book)
Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)

Related Viewings:

As Good As It Gets (1997)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Shine (1996)
Rain Man (1988)

Official Site:
Ocean's 11

Also see my reviews at:


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A Beautiful Mind

It is unofficially time for Tom Hanks and Spencer Tracy to make room in movie history; Mr. Crowe is about to join them.  It may also be time for Mr. Howard to make space on his mantle, and for Ms Connolly to be taken seriously, by those who do not already.  With A Beautiful Mind, an emotionally powerful journey into the mouth and madness, love and genius, the participants have come together to create the year’s most intense, and amazing movie experience.  I must honestly admit that as the credits rolled, I was both crying and cheering, a dual achievement that is becoming even more rare as Hollywood drifts away from quality into the quantitative capitalistic mode of how much and how fast.  This is proof that some people still care about making quality movies, and that it can be done.

The movie tells the story of Nobel Prize winner, genius, and schizophrenic, John Forbes Nash, based on an autobiography by Sylvia Nasar.  It begins during his years at Harvard, during his search for an original idea, in a mind full of so many.  We are taken on a journey through his life and mind, meeting his future wife (Connolly) his rambunctious roommate (Knight’s Tales Bettany) and a mysterious government agent (Harris), as Nash fights to understand, and explain everything in life through reason and intellect.  As in any quality movie, to explain the rest of the plot would be to rob the movie of a part of its magic.  The revelatory delivery is patient, powerful and painfully honest in showing the effects of Nash’s illness on himself, and those around him. 

This could very well be the pinnacle performance of Crowe’s career.  While he was very commanding and effective in Gladiator, I felt that was more of a makeup for his more deserving turn in The Insider.  While this is typically the kind of role that is Oscar shoo-in, Crowe doesn’t take the typical route with it, instead giving the role the edge it deserves, eliciting fear, appreciation, sympathy, laughter and compassion all at once.  He, like Cate Blanchett, has shown the ability to glide effortlessly through not only chameleon style appearance changes, but vocal tones as well.  What separates this performance from so many others, is the obvious heart and emotion seen Crowe's eyes while playing Nash.  You can feel what he feels, good and bad, and you become a part of him, cheering for him, while understanding his plight, a consistency that Crowe typically elicits in his roles.  This is type of performance, not role that deserves recognition and will get it for him this year.  Along with him, Connolly deserves recognition as well, for finally bringing to the mainstream, what those who have seen her independent work have already known; she is a very talented and versatile actress.  Her work in Requiem for a Dream and Waking the Dead was incredible, yet under seen last year, but now, the world will know what a treasure she is, not just to look at, but in her ability to show her emotions and bare her soul, inside and out, like few actresses working today, comparable maybe to Jodie Foster.  Add in Ed Harris, who is consistent as usual, as the best supporting actor working today, and a comic turn from Bettany, who stole A Knights Tale, and Howard has amassed the near perfect cast to effectively tell and relate his story in the wondrous, bitter, yet realistic manner which he does here. 

Ultimately, A Beautiful Mind is 2001’s most intense, realistic ride through the world of what we try to explain and do not understand.  Crowe embodies Nash to perfection, while Roger Deakins (one of the great cinematographers) has combined his visuals with simplistic, yet complex screenplay by Akiva Goldsmith (balancing intensity with humor) to take us along on Nash’s battle to understand and grasp reality. I must admit a weakness for movies involving both genius and mental illness (dealing with both in my lifetime as well) The movie takes an amazingly subtle yet effective stance towards the maddening and frustrating fine line between brilliance and insanity.  Most directors, writers, and actors for that matter, would have gone over the top and milked the heartstrings of this story until the audience is beaten into a sugar and hormonal induced coma.  But Howard, and Goldsmith have gently and tactfully crafted a message, which balances the delicate emotional moments, with the historical ones, to create a message, which strikes at the very heart of all humans who have tried to reason what can only be felt.  Nash grasped and fought this his whole life, and Howard has captured it to near perfection.  When March rolls around, everyone will know, what most of already have?  That Crowe is a versatile amazing actor that Howard is not all full of overblown fluff, that Connolly has moved into the upper echelon of dramatic actresses, and that you should know more about John Forbes Nash. ($$$$ out of $$$$$)

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