A Beautiful Mind is the true story of professor John Nash, a mathematical
genius and his battle with schizophrenia. Getting off to a slow start
it takes about half way through the movie before the action takes place.
But once the story kicks off the mystery of the plot unravels in a
twilight zone fashion and we are left actually inside the mind of
John Nash constantly wondering what is real and what is a delusion.
Russell Crowe is superb in the role of John Nash and in keeping us
guessing whether he is really sane or insane.
Beginning in 1947 the story chronicles the life of John Nash as a
student at Princeton. Judd Hirsh is Nash's professor. The eccentric
Nash appears to have a group of friends yet spends most of his time
in the library jotting down mathematical formulas on the library windows
and in his room. He admits, "I don't like people much and they don't like me much."
While at Princeton he meets roommate Charles (Paul Bettany) who becomes
his best friend and Alicia (Jennifer Connelly) who he falls in love with.
After college John works as a professor and also supposedly gets offered
a job by William Parcher (Ed Harris) for the Pentagon cracking codes
to prevent the Russians from using the atomic bomb. He meets his future
wife while he is teaching a math course at Princeton. The two begin
dating and eventually marry.
Soon John's world begins to disintegrate into paranoid delusions.
John is hospitalized for mental illness and he is under the care of
Dr. Rosen (Christopher Plummer). John tells Alicia that it is a government
conspiracy. Alicia believes John until she finds out that the Wheeler
Building in which Nash was suppose to be working is closed off and
the confidential papers he was working on were never mailed.
She is horrified to find the walls of the office John was suppose
to be working in covered in circled newspaper clippings of conspiracies
and meaningless codes. It is at this point that Alicia is forced to
come to terms with John's illness. He receives shock treatments and eventually comes home.
John's descent into madness is gripping and the support of his wife
through it all is poignant. Throughout the marriage we are left wondering
how she will continue to cope with working to support the family and
take care of the baby. She drops the baby off at her mother's, as
the truly ill John cannot be left to take care of the baby and almost
drowns him when he leaves the baby in the tub. Yet Alicia sticks by him through it all.
John, refusing to take his medication, is once again governed by
his delusions that he is working for the government, clipping newspaper
articles obsessively and jotting down codes.
John goes to see an old friend at Princeton and asks him if he can
observe classes and try to get his sanity back. John has a paranoid
delusion and is laughed at by the other students. Although John is
never rid of his delusions and he sees things that aren't there, he
teaches at Princeton able to ignore the delusions. In 1994 John Nash
receives the Nobel Prize for a mathematical theory that revolutionizes economics.
Although it gets off to a slow start, A Beautiful Mind is a worthwhile
movie. It is an accurate account of mental illness although quite
tragic at moments it ends with optimism as we are left to see what
one man can accomplish despite what seem unbeatable odds.
Copyright © 2002 Liz Quinn