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.
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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