This is a fascinating bopic of John Nash, the Nobel prize-winning mathematician.
Russell Crowe plays John Forbes Nash Jr, who is a highly intelligent mathematician who has spent much of his life isolated from everyday society due to his distraction with mathematics and his ongoing struggle with mental illness. In 1948, he enrols at Princeton as a graduate student and is almost immediately labelled an odd-ball loner. He sets himself a personal quest to find a unique and completely original mathematical theorem. He works hard and keep to himself, occasionally socialising with other students, but mostly only with his roommate Charles (by Paul Bettany), who becomes his best friend. John makes a mathematical breakthrough (that will later earn him the Nobel Prize) – he establishes a name for himself in maths academia and is elevated to a professorship at MIT. While teaching there he becomes involved with one of his students, Alicia (by Jennifer Connelly) who he later marries. During this period, the US Government, represented by Department of Defense agent William Parcher (by Ed Harris) asks Nash for his help to break Soviet codes and he gets heavily involved in a conspiracy plot that traumatises him and shakes his world to its foundations. As a result, he starts to lose his sense of perspective and the boundaries of his reality become blurred with his expanding imaginary world. He is diagnosed with schizophrenia and eventually institutionalized. As he sinks deeper into his illness he withdraws from society and doesn’t surface back into academia until the 1970’s when he is well enough to take up his research and teaching once again. John Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994.
Director Ron Howard has done a wonderful job with this movie. The cinematography is effective and the acting is universally superb. How Russell Crowe didn’t receive an Oscar for this performance will always be a mystery to me. His work here is really fantastic. He portrays this incredible man through his soaring emotional highs and incredible lows, his episodes of schizophrenia, his realisation that he has a mental illness and has been living with hallucinations – this is all marvellous. Jennifer Connelly did get an Oscar – and much deserved for her work here. Together theirs is a great on-screen partnership and their demonstration of the relationship between John and Alicia is fascinating. As usual, Ed Harris is great in this tough-guy role too.