a critiQal film review A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Plot: John Nash, Jr. (Crowe) is a brilliant mathematician who is on the brink of international acclaim when he becomes involved in things beyond his control, with only his wife (Connelly) by his side to aid him.

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  • ...with Crowe's impressive leading man performance leading the pack, this film is well-deserving of the praise it's gotten.

After winning 4 Academy Awards® for 2001, A Beautiful Mind had peaked my interest. I finally was able to get around to seeing it recently.

I started watching this movie with very little expectations for two reasons: I don’t always agree with the Academy’s choices (after all, Halle Berry won an Academy Award® for Monster’s Ball (2001) the same year) and, having seen Crowe only as a lead man in the highly-overrated Gladiator, I was not convinced he was a competent actor (true, LA Confidential was good, but he didn’t seem to have to really act in that movie, more just fill in the scene – Kim Basinger was the star, not him).

This time, however, I came away amazed. A stunning film, and deserving of all of it’s Academy Awards® (although I do believe Crowe was overlooked in the lead man category).

The characters of A Beautiful Mind were all amazingly well acted. Crowe, especially, seemed to fit perfectly into his role as John Nash. When he was nervous, the viewer sympathized. When he was confused, the viewer could understand where the confusion came from, and empathized. Crowe really lets the viewer get to know his character. They always say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Crowe proves it here. It’s simply amazing to watch.

The other characters of A Beautiful Mind were also brilliantly acted. Jennifer Connelly was fabulous as Nash’s wife, portraying a wife’s love, even through all the hardships they endure – yet by doing so, she doesn’t limit herself, and doesn’t let her character just be a sidekick.

Paul Bettany also gives another standout performance as Nash’s friend (PS…Paul’s character in A Knight’s Tale is the ONLY reason to watch that movie). Ed Harris and Christopher Plummer also contributed worthwhile performances.

A Beautiful Mind is suspenseful and keeps the viewer guessing throughout. The viewer never quite knows where the story will go next, keeping the viewer more tuned in than if it had been as predictable as the average movie is becoming. The viewer grows with John Nash, by his side through every step, and the viewer evolves right along with the character. True, the acting is a major part of that, but the storyline is also integral to achieving that.

The special effects were spectacular, but reserved, which is how they should be for a film like A Beautiful Mind. They contribute to the story greatly, from helping the viewer follow where Nash’s mind is going in the beginning to helping the viewer understand the strife he goes through during the rest of the film. One effect in particular that was well done was the way pages or words were lit up, as Nash searched for a pattern, or sought to more better understand a puzzle.

With the outstanding performances given by Crowe, Connelly and Bettany, the superb storyline, and the helping hand of good special effects, this film becomes a true winner, and well-deserving of all of it’s Academy Awards. Thumbs up to Ron Howard with finally getting away from his typical cheese, and bringing forth something worth watching.

I’m going to keep a closer eye on Crowe in the future, and look more into his previous movies, including The Insider, to find out if he will ever be able to come close to the performance he gave for this film.

If you haven’t seen A Beautiful Mind yet, put it at number one on your list. You are missing something quite extraordinary.

As an added bonus, the 2 DVD “Awards Edition” set is packed with special features to keep the DVD enthusiasts (of which I proudly admit to being) entertained into the wee hours of the morning.

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