Friday, September 19, 2008

REVIEW: A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

Year: 2001
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Paul Bettany, Josh Lucas
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

A Beautiful Mind is one of those films were I had heard good things about, but never had the chance to see it. The film was released in limited theaters in late 2001 than released wide in early 2002. The film was very well received and managed to gross an estimated $313 million worldwide on a small budget of $58 million. Not only that, but the film also won 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture. So with all this fame and popularity, why did it take me this long to see it? Well, I was mostly busy with other things and I let this film just slip right pass me when it came out. I always wanted to see it, but just never had the solid time and place to see it until today.

Plot Outline:
John Nash (Russell Crowe) is a mathematical genius and a code breaker looking for his original idea. He reluctantly teaches a class at Princeton, where he meets Alicia (Jennifer Connelly) and the two of them fall deeply in love. As a few years pass, a man from the Department of Defence, William Parcher (Ed Harris), impressed by his code breaking skills, offers Nash to work for him on a case to stop the Russians from bombing America. However, what John doesn't realize is that he is a schizophrenic. His life soon turns to shambles as he tries to piece together what's real in his life and what's not.

The film is based on the bestselling book "A Beautiful Mind" by Sylvia Nasar which is a biography of the real John Forbes Nash. Having not read that book, I cant comment if the film stays close to the real thing. The plot for A Beautiful Mind is fantastic. The story gets intriguing and fascinating with each scene that goes by. The film won Best Picture at the 2002 Oscars and I think it more than deserved it. The film starts with the introduction of John Nash and his early years at Princeton. Director Ron Howard does a wonderful job at showing us his vision for the film and the illness of John Nash as he soon realizes hes been diagnosed with schizophrenia. The film is not only powerful and emotional, but also romantic. We see the character Nash falling in love with Alicia and trying everything to make things work while being paranoid at the same time. If their is one thing about this film that of kind bugged me, its that director Ron Howard never lets us in on the whole thing. He teases us with this creative story without ever letting us go any deeper and only leaving us with our imagination as to what happens. Than their are some who criticized the film for not staying 100% faithful to the real John Nash, but since I never read the famous biography of this man, I really didn't find this to be a problem.

Russell Crowe plays as John Nash and he gives an outstanding performance. I personally think that he got an Oscar for the wrong movie. As much as I thought his work in the 2000 hit film "Gladiator" was great, I don't think it was Oscar worthy. I personally think he should have gotten the Oscar for this film because he gives an unbelievable performance as John Nash. Jennifer Connelly plays as Alicia Nash and she too gives a fantastic performance. Connelly won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for this film and I think she more than deserved it. Ed Harris plays as William Parcher and hes great as always. He gives a believable performance as the scary agent Parcher that I found to be really enjoyable. Paul Bettany plays as Charles and I found his work here to be really good. I think he portrayed the character of Charles very good and he was really effective as him. We also have Josh Lucas playing as John's somewhat rival, Hansen. I enjoyed his performance here and thought he was a good addition to this already impressive cast.

The visual look of the film is great. A Beautiful Mind opened wide in early 2002 and its film source is pretty cleaned up. Their were a few film grain here and their, but nothing that's going to distract you from the films riveting story. Colors are surprisingly vibrant for the most part. Exterior shots show alot of colors that pop at you and are pleasing to watch. Black levels are spot on and never seem to appear washed out. Flesh tones are great and seem to be accurate. They don't really have that warm look to them that I would have liked, but its still good. Detail usually ranges from being great to just good. Close up shots show a good amount of detail that's simply great to look at. Than their are a few scenes like the ballroom scene where Nash takes Alicia on their first date that just look good, but nothing special.

The soundtrack in A Beautiful Mind is just plain wonderful. The music is composed by James Horner who also did other hit films such as Apollo 13 and Titanic. He does an amazing job here with the score for this film. Its really gripping and goes oh so well with the films touching story. I honestly think he should have gotten an Oscar for it. Believe me, its that good. The film also consists of a pretty good bass. This film by all means, isn't the type of film to use to demo off to your friends when you have a killer surround system, but its still good for a film of its type. You wouldn't think a romantic drama film like this to really have much in terms of bass, but you would be surprised. The films bass isn't great, but its easily good for a film like this.

I honestly wasn't expecting much when I walked into this film, but I was pleasantly surprised on how fantastic it really was. The films got an emotional story that's very romantic and gripping at the same time. Director Ron Howard really deserved that Oscar because he did a great job here. The cast is outstanding with many of them delivering Oscar worthy performances. The visual look of the film is pretty vibrant and generally detailed. The soundtrack easily works and is some of the best I have heard in awhile from someone that's not John Williams or Danny Elfman. I can easily recommend A Beautiful Mind to those who are looking for an amazing movie that's filled with suspense and romance. The film has become another personal favorite of mine. A Beautiful Mind is simply a beautiful film.

Grade: A-


Jaccstev said...

I love this film. Russell Crowe and other cast members were really outstanding. This remembering me of his newest project that will release next month, a reunion with Leo DiCaprio in Body of Lies. That film also has a potentiality to be great.

micky said...

good review farzan, this is one of the best films from crowe

David Bishop said...

Mathematicians make good movie subjects: A Beautiful Mind, Stand and Deliver, Good Will Hunting. Maybe someday they can make a movie about me.