Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind
Credit: A Beautiful Mind: Eli Reed

A tidy film about a messy subject, A Beautiful Mind is a miracle of Hollywood science: Call it [(X+G-C)/D]xRC=O. For those who slept through Movie Calculus, that figure denotes the incredible life story of schizophrenic mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. (X) as rendered by Akiva Goldsman’s suspension bridge of a script (G), minus certain biographical complications (C), dissolved in the revelatory shimmer of Roger Deakins’ cinematography (D), and brought to twitchy, brilliant life by Russell Crowe (RC). All of which equates to a thrillingly proficient Oscar darling (O).

That’s how the equation looked on director Ron Howard’s blackboard, and that’s more or less how it played out in practice. Sure, the aforementioned complications (Nash’s alleged homosexual leanings and anti-Semitism) came back to haunt the movie, which some decried as ”sanitized.” ”Machine-tooled” is more like it: Goldsman strings his clever reverses, ironies, and symmetries harp-taut across Howard’s sturdy direction — even Nash’s delusional free falls feel algebraic. It all adds up to a primer in the governing dynamics of good cinema, if not a lesson in the math of madness.

A Beautiful Mind
  • Movie
  • 135 minutes