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Powerful, quiet, effortless Crowe
dfranzen7023 January 2002
A Beautiful Mind

Director Ron Howard has experience in playing with his audience's heartstrings. Remember in Apollo 13, when the fate of the astronauts was uncertain? (Ok, so if you remember your recent history, you knew.... but still!) Or remember in Parenthood, when Steve Martin's kid was about to make the crucial catch? Ol Opie can still pluck those strings with the best of them. (And you know, he'll never stop being called Opie, even by those of us who never saw The Andy Griffith Show during its initial run.) And plucking heartstrings is not a bad thing at all, not when you can do it in such a sincere, noncloying way as the masterful Beautiful Mind presents to its viewers.

John Nash is a mathematics prodigy who has a decided knack at solving previously unsolvable problems. He's socially dysfunctional, rarely looking anyone in the eye, but pours all of his energy - and soul - into producing one original idea, an idea that will distinguish him from all of the other mathemathical minds at Princeton University.

But John, like most who have had movies made about them, had his ups and downs. He meets and falls for a beautiful student of his named Alicia (Jennifer Connelly), and they produce a baby. But John also suffers from tremendous delusions and is diagnosed with a form of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia's a tough disease, folks - it's still not fully understood, and Nash was diagnosed with it in the middle of last century. He spends time in a sanitarium, as doctors struggle to find a cure.

Russell Crowe is absolutely powerful as the confused and confusing Nash. Although the marquee says "Russell Crowe", you'll immediately forget this is the hunky guy from Gladiator. I mean after all, he's playing some nerdy scientist dude! But Crowe completely disappears in the role, and he's unforgettable. Actors kill for roles like this one, because it gives them a chance to show off their acting chops. For many actors, this is the kiss of death, because then they're exposed as poor thespians. But not for Crowe; if anything, this proves once and for all that he's a grand master of acting. I realize that sounds like overkill for him, but I think that when actors are labeled as a "hunk" - their skills as actors aren't seen as very substantial. Hey, looking darn good worked against Tom Selleck, and to a degree it has worked against Crowe as well.

And he ages well, too. The movie takes place over a fairly extended period of time, ending with Nash's acceptance of the Nobel Prize in 1994. The makeup on Nash is neither garish nor schmaltzy; he looks completely genuine. And that's the essence of Crowe's performance. It's sincere, never trying to win over the audience with a sly wink here or a toss of the hair there. Crowe shows remarkable poise, elegance, and is utterly astounding in the role.

His supporting cast is more than able. Jennifer Connelly is better than I thought she would be; in most roles, she's the eye candy. But this role had meat to it, and she held her own. It wasn't an easy role to play, and she pulled it off. And her scenes with Crowe do have that movie magic that each of us looks for when we go to movies, that one moment, that compatible chemistry that leaves audiences mesmerized.

And yes, this does have some very, very touching moments. The final scene, while predictable (even if you don't know the outcome in real life), will bring more than one tear to the eye. Yes, I'll admit it, it got me right here. But it's okay; I did that old 'guy-crying-in-movie-theater' trick. If you feel the brime falling from the lid, you make a motion toward your cheek and then you scratch vigorously; people might think you have a skin infection and move away slowly, but at least they won't think you're a girly man.

At any rate, it's certainly one of the best movies of the year. Everything's in place: the direction, the photography, and especially the acting.
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A beautifully written, acted, and crafted movie.
The Mad Reviewer16 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
A BEAUTIFUL MIND (2001) Rating: 10/10

A Beautiful Mind's greatest achievement, in my humble opinion, is the way it makes schizophrenia accessible to "sane" people. The general public knows schizophrenics tend to talk to themselves, repeat certain actions and do things generally at odds with the norm. But why? It's nearly impossible for a "sane" individual to understand why this happens...and more importantly, what that feels like. Without this essential empathy, many people become frustrated with the mentally ill, asking why patients can't pull themselves together and just bear up. We express this same impatience with the criminally insane who act upon delusions with disastrous results. It is incomprehensible.

A Beautiful Mind does all it can to change that, and it succeeds. Unless you are familiar with John Nash's story, you probably won't guess he's schizophrenic until part-way into the movie. He's eccentric, abrupt, and highly intelligent, but doesn't seem crazy. His delusions are as real as reality to Nash, and likewise, they are real to the audience, who cannot tell the difference between truth and delusion.

Incidentally, I came across a review from a "professional critic" who blasted A Beautiful Mind for including "all that spying stuff that had nothing to do with Nash's work that was thrown in for Hollywood thrill." I feel bad for that chap, since he missed the entire point of the film. But that just proves Ron Howard's genius in creating a picture of insanity indistinguishable from reality.

There are some truly shocking moments in A Beautiful Mind. When Alicia finds her husband's secret cache of newspaper clippings behind their house, I was eerily reminded of Jack Nicholson's wife in The Shining discovering his endless, typewritten pages of the same phrase. The scene that follows, culminating with Nash's realization that his delusions are indeed a false reality is brilliant. In a moment, remembering Marcee, Nash has a flash of insight, and he finally accepts his illness -- ironically, through his intellect. When Nash imagines that someone is going to harm Alicia, he lunges at her -- and only through his eyes do we see how a seemingly senseless act of violence is a gesture of love, filtered through the smog of delusion.

Now my take on the acting: Superb in every sense of the word. Russell Crowe is incredible. I can't stress that enough. There's never any question about the authenticity of his character. Crowe doesn't rely on his elaborate makeup to age Nash -- his walk, words, and voice do that elegantly in the movie's end. Crowe will get at least another Oscar nomination out of this one. And, he better win. Jennifer Connelly is amazing as well. And when Crowe and Connelly are put together, extraordinary chemistry erupts, they just gel together, they really belong with one another. Some people have had problems with the romance part of the movie, saying that the way John and Alicia even started seeing each other wasn't very realistic and why Alicia would stay with John after he becomes distant. But, I think that maybe it started out as just a crush, you know, and the math question she showed him was just her excuse for going to his office and she already knew she was going to ask him out before hand. Maybe she's just attracted to the kind of person Nash is? Who knows? A lot of people are attracted to the "weirdest" things sometimes. The crush took over the fact that he sort of insulted her work and she still asked him anyway. When you're around someone you like so much you can't help but be fooled by them. I can't really explain it, but I can understand why she still asked him to dinner. And I guess if you love someone as much as Alicia loved John, then you would stick with them through anything. Even how distant he became, she still stuck with him.

Moving on, I think Ed Harris is, as always, great. Harris continues to prove that, simply because he's flawless. With delusions like these, no wonder Nash was torn between treatment and "spying."

Simply put, A Beautiful Mind is a film which extends far beyond the 2 hours and 15 minutes that you will spend viewing it in the theater. The characters continued to haunt me after the movie (and still do), thanks to the Oscar-inducing performances by Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and all of the supporting players. They are not merely acting, yet are transformed into the characters, leaving no trace of a line between their part and reality.

Of course a film is only as good as a screenplay would allow, and the story contained within is written in a way that compliments everything that is truly great about A Beautiful Mind. Ron Howard contributes truly inspiring work to this film, and I hope that the critics remember him when awards are being given out.

All I can tell you now is that if you're looking for an emotionally-charged movie that will make you cry, but still filters in some very funny moments as to lighten things up every now and then, with near perfect acting, cinematography, directing, editing and a screenplay which will cause the story of John Nash to inspire you, then consider A Beautiful Mind.

I hope a lot of people see this film. Not just because Russell Crowe is a hunk or because it's a Ron Howard piece, but because you will learn something important. You will learn why compassion is an absolute must when dealing with the mentally ill. You won't glare at the next person you see muttering to themselves. And when someone you love is dealing with a disorder, be it schizophrenia or depression, you won't ask them to "pull themselves together." You will understand why they need your love -- because they are just as confused as you are.

In closing, if Russell Crowe isn't awarded the Best Actor Oscar this year, then my faith in movies and its rewards system will be seriously tarnished.
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A Beautiful Movie
Boyo-217 December 2001
I think its a good idea to know as little as possible about this movie before seeing it. Now that I've seen it, the commercials on television seem to be giving away too much. With that in mind DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT!

Its a hard movie to pinpoint. Its not like any other movie I've ever seen, in that a character exists that is not real. John Nash's mind is the reality of the movie and its not until the movie is half over that you realize this and its jarring that you've been taken on a ride with this man's illness, and accepted it as the real world. Its also a very heartbreaking thing.

From the middle point, John and you see the world differently because he starts to receive treatment.

Russell Crowe does not overdo it for a minute and turns in his customary brilliant performance. Would not surprise me at all if he were to win his second Best Actor Oscar in March 2002. He really is that good.

Just as good but with less screen time is the beautiful and beautifully talent Jennifer Connelly, who the world may finally get to see in a mainstream movie. Her chemistry with Crowe is vital to the movie and neither of them disappoint the audience at all in that respect.

I enjoyed it immensely and felt like I had seen a movie when it was over. I was shown a person at their best and the worse and everything in between, by a masterful actor at the top of his game.

I am sure Ron Howard deserves a lot of credit that he won't get, too.
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A movie with a difference - It's realistic.
jonwoolfrey2 May 2002
I went along to the movies not really wanting to see this movie, thinking it was a 'girly' movie, one which had more technical skill rather than a storyline. I was surprised more than anything I could imagine.

I have seen a lot of movies in my time, but this movie just took me by storm. Its uniqueness, ironically enough because it was based on a real life situation was a refreshing change from the usual Hollywood blockbuster. This movie provided a brilliant (pardon the pun) insight into many aspects of a genius at work.

This movie touched me on many levels. The psychology of the movie was intriguing, the mathematical philosophies was actually realistic from my own experience, and the icing on the cake making the movie stand out was surprisingly the humanistic side of Love. While love is a common basis in most movies, the interaction of this theme with other aspects of the plot was planned phenomenlly.

As for the cast, I have never noticed the actual difference in skill between many actors/actresses before. I like Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise etc, but I wouldn't be able to pinpoint a classic actor's performance. But Russell Crowe in this film showed me what it was like to act in a way where I was in awe of his skill in playing this character, especially when considering the extreme difference from characters in his other movies such as the Gladiator and The Insider. Russell Crowe was one of the big reasons this movie was so brilliant. Added to that the stellar performances of Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris and Adam Goldberg, and this made for the 'perfect' movie.

A Beautiful Mind was by far the most original, intelligent and entertaining movie I have ever seen. And this from a movie I didn't expect big things from. Kudos to Ron Howard, the cast and the crew of this movie. It was truly worthy of the Oscar, and Russell Crowe was definately the most deserving of this production team to miss out on the highest accolade. Perhaps politics played a bigger part than I previously would have thought.
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Direction makes it beautiful
susan_may215 September 2002
"A Beautiful Mind" is an exceptional story, but it is only and exceptional film because of its director. Ron Howard does an amazing job of engaging his audience, introducing a brilliant main character, and making the audience experience the reality of mental illness. This could have been an unbelievable story to which very people could relate; however, the directorial mastery Howard exhibits throughout allows the audience to accompany Nash on his journey and awareness of his illness. Anyone who has been close to the frailties of the human mind will appreciate how respectfully and honestly this film approaches the subject. Howard is able to portray all the complex reactions to mental illness while maintaining the humanity and dignity of the patient. Superbly directed, wonderfully acted by Crowe and cast, this film succeeds on every level.
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Crowe Does It Again!
ccthemovieman-11 February 2006
The more I watch Russell Crowe, the more I am becoming a big fan of his acting talent. Here again, he demonstrates his skills in a role that had me spellbound. Of course, mentally-ill people are usually fascinating. Look how popular the cable television show "Monk" has become.

Crowe's character, mathematician John Nash, is not nearly as eccentric as "Monk," but his schizophrenia makes for a fascinating portrait of a very troubled man. This is another of those Ron Howard based-on-a-true-story films, so don't take everything here as gospel truth....because it ain't so. (One example: in real life, Nash's wife was anything but as supportive as Jennifer Connelly was portrayed here.)

The first time I saw this film I was disappointed. Maybe I expected more, maybe I felt the story was unfair to the viewer and I felt like this was just one more attempt at Liberal Hollywood to make fun of those in the 1950s who were opposed to Communism. Well, on the second viewing, just a few weeks ago, I didn't have a problem with any of those things, just enjoying the performances and the classy-looking cinematography, thanks to one of the best cameramen in the business, Roger Deakins. I'm not always a fan of director Ron Howard, but his films are usually interesting and pleasing to the eye. He and Crowe seem to be a good pair, too, as witnessed by 2005's "Cinderella Man."

For those who enjoy a cerebral thriller, this is a very intriguing film. Ed Harris, Paul Bettany, Adam Goldberg, Judd Hirsch, Josh Lucas and Anthony Rapp all deliver solid supporting help and, if you haven't seen this, this story will deliver a big surprise. If you know the ending, a second viewing is even more interesting as you trace Nash's actions from the beginning.
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Simply put: Beautiful
cericsso3 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I wasn't actually planning on going to see "A Beautiful Mind" in the first place, but as it was, I was convinced by the friend that accompanied me that it was truly something to see. And now, after seeing it, I thank her for that. Instead of spending two and a half hours watching George Clooney and Matt Damon rob casinos or Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore dealing with their problems in New Foundland, I found myself pulled into another kind of story, a powerful, emotional story of how one man learned to battle his own demons and dazzle the world.

"A Beautiful Mind", based on the novel by Sylvia Nasar, is the story of John Forbes Nash Jr., the genius mathematician, whose life suddenly takes a turn for the worse when he is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. After fierce battles with his inner self, he overcomes this and returns to win the Nobel Prize in 1994 for his brakethrough game theory in economics that he had been working on during his years in Princeton University in the 1950s.

John Nash, portrayed very well by the versatile and brilliant Russell Crowe, is a partly shy, yet ironic and sometimes even arrogant, gifted young student studying in Princeton University in the late 1940s. He dedicates his time to numbers and equations, set on to solving every problem at hand, rather than mingling with co-students on the football field or in the pub.

Nash is later on introduced to Sylvia (played by the lovely Jennifer Connely), a physics student attending his classes. She helps Nash to open up and eventually discover love.

Enter William Parcher (played by Ed Harris), a shadowy and mysterious agent working for the Department of Defense. Parcher, after realizing Nash's ability to see mathematical and geometrical patterns everywhere, approaches Nash with a mission that involves national security.

Now, amidst his work and relationship, Nash is suddenly thrown into a whirlwind of emotions and disbeliefs as he is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. And this is the part where "A Beautiful Mind" truly shines: in portraying the disorder from Nash's own point of view. In a powerful and emotional way, it shows the viewer how difficult an illness like this can be to not only face, but overcome, something that people today may not always realize.

Before seeing this movie, I must admit that I was a bit afraid that casting such a well-known actor as Russell Crowe as the main character would ruin the image of John Nash, forcing the viewer to see Crowe, rather than Nash. This is a common problem when dealing with famous actors, but to my surprise, it didn't much bother me much. And the same goes for Ed Harris.

As a movie, "A Beautiful Mind" is absolutely great (It is so much more, but I cannot find the words to praise it enough, so I will simply go with "great" =). Not only does it have a strong point and an importaint message to the viewer, but it delivers it in a touching and sensitive, partly even humourous kind of way, with the help of powerful actors, a great screenplay and even a few special effects to boost it up. So for anyone whose grown tired of the consant pointless action-movies out there, and instead want to immerse themselves into a character-driven story that might actually bring a tear to your eyes, I sincerily recommend "A Beautiful Mind".
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A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lose.
nycritic25 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The story of John Forbes Nash doesn't seem like the subject matter anyone would want to make a film of, but Ron Howard brings forth his life-story in a way that makes one forget he was also the man behind 80s fluff such as SPLASH and WILLOW.

A life destined to excel once he discovers and cracks his "game theory," John Forbes Nash is, however, a man disconnected with his surroundings and reality. He can't even approach a girl without fumbling his way through an especially creepy introduction, and at the same time he can't stand losing a simple mind-game with his friend. At the same time, four other people make their appearances in Nash's life and all three are destined to change his life forever.

The first of them is a college friend Charlie (Paul Bettany of GANGSTER NO. 1) who later introduces Nash to his young daughter Marcee, Alicia (Jennifer Connelly), whom he marries, and a sinister figure: William Parcher (Ed Harris). Parcher has special designs for Nash: he wants him to use his keen code-cracking skills for special top-secret assignments involving the Russians and other obscure elements and on one night Nash gets to see just how dangerous the enemy is as he and Parcher are shot at after Nash delivers some information to a strange mansion posing as an intelligence office.

It's not long before Nash becomes consumed with finding the perfect code and aided by the omni-present Parcher, who supplies Nash with a security code embedded into his own skin, he dives headlong into a nightmare of numbers and codes and soon enough collapses into full-fledged schizophrenia which will require shock treatment and an arduous recovery period. Alicia, instead of moving on, forcefully stays by his side even when he has a dangerous regression and almost kills their baby child.

Stories like this require a tight script and thorough knowledge of the circumstance of mental illness as well as the person in question, in this case Nash. Howard directs Nash's progressive descent into his mental breakdown with ease and in a way where we're not sure if anyone who surrounded Nash is real -- the way he introduces Charlie, Marcee, and especially Parcher and the covert office is spectacular and shows just how strong schizophrenia can be in inducing its victims to completely believe what they are seeing and hearing.

And then there are the performances. I don't think I need to say anything which hasn't been said of Russell Crowe. He is, right now, the only living actor who has the guts and balls to put his masculinity aside and dive head-first into the roles he plays. His screen presence oozes a magnetic, masculine power (and in one scene it's clear the man is built) but that doesn't overcome his characterization of Nash. If anything, he uses his physicality as an asset to clumsily walk around, and there is one scene later in the movie when he has returned to teach classes. He walks with the shuffle of someone who's lost in his own world. It would be hard-pressed for anyone to see the staccato waddle and the glazed eyes that he wouldn't be talking to himself in full-fledged conversations, and the hippie who mocks him, unnoticed, expresses Anyone's reaction. We know this is a genius, but one who has become damaged goods.

Then there's Jennifer Connelly. An actress who as of yet has avoided selling out to blatant commercialism, her presence is as powerful as Crowe's. Quiet but intense, she is the foundation of which Crowe's feet rest on and without her he might as well be dead. Just one scene, when she is about to discover just how crazy her husband is and his colleagues are trying to stop her: just watch her reel around and casually but with authority slap one of them squarely in the face and continue on, undeterred. Marvelous acting. Her Oscar is justified.

The entire supporting cast is uniformly brilliant. Ed Harris nails his creepy role as the imaginary Parcher. Paul Bettany gives off friendly dependency -- the friend who won't go away, even though he, too, isn't real. Judd Hirsch, Adam Goldberg, and Christopher Plummer provide solid support in small roles.

A complex movie about mental illness as well as the power of love and the triumph of the soul (even if love -- the devotion between Alicia and John -- is excruciatingly strained at times), A BEAUTIFUL MIND is truly, a beautiful experience and justly won the Oscar for Best Movie and Director and should have also won Best Actor, but Russell Crowe will stick around for quite some time giving powerhouse performances. He is one strong actor to follow. I know I will.
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Le génie frise la folie / genius is close kin to madness
Philippe-B7 January 2002
A poorly tailored trailer does not begin to describe what is one man's journey from the heaven of clear thought to the hell of schizophrenia.

Russell Crowe does an excellent role as John Nash, a mathematician who revolutionizes Group Theory, only to have his mind crash into confused and split views of the world.

Jennifer Connelly is superb as his wife. It is through her that we begin to understand the range of problems and pittfalls Nash is facing, most of his own devising. She deserves an Oscar, period.

The director has arranged beautiful 'red herrings' to kept viewers guessing and it works suprisingly well. Ron Howard's best work to date.

A beautiful movie to decribe a beautiful mind.
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Superb Acting and a Gem of a Film
chicagoconsultant4 January 2012
Ed Harris, Russel Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Paul Bettany were terrific.

The film had great balance and is worth a viewing.

The story boldly addresses mental illness as a handicap.

Because of the quality of the acting and directing, this movie is a beacon of hope for people of all disabilities. The film illustrates to the viewer how deeply a handicap can infiltrate the domestic, professional, and personal lives of those unfortunate to have these types of issues. I hope Ron Howard and the acting crew can get together again for something similar. This was a great film, that also serves an important role for awareness to people that might not understand how deeply debilitating these issues can be, and also gets the message across that not all should be marginalized.
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A Beautiful Film
shanfloyd18 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
It's not that common people knew John Forbes Nash jr., a Princeton mathematician after he recieved Nobel Prize for his "Game Theory". It's not that people started to know him after Sylvia Nasar wrote his biography. What made John Nash a household name is Ron Howard's brilliant direction and Russell Crowe's excellent performance as the scizophrenic genious.

Russell Crowe exceeds all of his past performances in this film. He did not act as Nash, he became Nash. His facial expression while solving a problem, his innocent and shy smile during romantic sequences and his vacant look during the time of scizophrenia are in a word magnificient, and shockingly original. Jennifer Connelly also put a beautiful performance as his devoted wife Alicia. The actings of these two are the core of success of this film. I am still in a dark why Crowe is denied his Oscar for the best actor.

Ron Howard changed the original story in some places a bit, but only to make it more enjoyable. His main goal was to feature Nash's point of view to his world and he has succeeded totally. The shot in the cafe` where Nash first understands the significance of the application of his theory is brilliantly taken and is the best example of Howard's genious as a filmmaker. The make-up throughout the film is drop-dead gorgeous as they showed Nash and Alicia aging in the course of the film. Thus the Russell Crowe in the beginning and the Russell Crowe in the end become two different entities due to the superb art of the make-up artists.

A Beautiful Mind will be considered one of the best biopics ever. It is dramatic, descriptive, detailed, reflective, enthusiastic, heroic and in all, a beautiful film. 10/10.
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A big winner at Sunday's 74th annual Academy Awards..
Nazi_Fighter_David24 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Schizophrenia, a disease of the brain, is one of the most disabling and emotionally devastating illnesses known to man... It is characterized by a constellation of distinctive and predictable symptoms... These include thought disorder, delusions, and hallucinations...

The film recounts the story of John Forbes Nash Jr., a Princeton brilliant mind, who rides up to the heights of mathematical prowess, down through mental breakdown, and finally up to regain the equilibrium...

Russell Crowe ventures on a journey of fear, humiliation and vulnerability, giving a real and moving portrait of a troubled man whose gifts were his downfall...

We see him impolite and rude, too smart to have to attend class, lacking social skills, insulting the great ideas of his colleagues, calling their work derivative, and declaring, "To find a truly original idea is the only way to distinguish myself."

Nash is obsessed with patterns... He spends his days writing perplexing formulas on his dormitory window in search of a breakthrough idea... He gets it one night, while out with his fellow scholars at a local bar where a stunning blond grabs their attention... He recreates the design of a classmate's tie reflecting light through glass... He follows the movements of pigeons as they compete for food... He stares obsessively at too many numbers, and reveals his natural ability helping the Pentagon crack the mathematical codes the Soviets are using...

He becomes friend with his roommate, Charles Herman, who is everything he is not – charming and charismatic... He somewhat refines his social manners enough to win the love of a beautiful physics student who would become his wife...

Then he begins to look for secret messages in newspapers and magazines, interpreting vague, undecipherable connections between letters and numbers...

His mental derangement grows to uncontrolled proportions and the lines between reality and delusion begin to occur as his hallucinations take control of his life in every instant... Nash soon begins to understand the nature of his mental illness and, while he is never cured of his hallucinations behavior, eventually keeps struggling to overcome it...

Crowe imparts every facet of John Nash's personality with clarity and feeling... He wins our sympathy merely by showing us a man climbing to the top, falling to the very bottom, and through love and determination fully, recapturing his potential once again...

Jennifer Connelly begins to establish herself as a young actress to watch for... She exudes class and sophistication... She makes a marvelous loving wife forced to face the realities of schizophrenia... She tries to do what's best for her husband, but in the face of adversity to take the decision she does, it is inspiring to think that love is the seed of all hope, and what makes the ride worthwhile...

Paul Bettany gives another charming turn as Nash's only true friend... He is able to extend any sympathy or understanding, frequently pushing Nash to leave his inquiries for a pizza and beer break...

Ed Harris looks nicely menacing in his black fedora... You never know if the man is real, a delusion or both as he constantly drives Nash to the verge of insanity and beyond...

Adam Goldberg makes a quiet impression as a Princeton alumnus...

Ron Howard evokes the beauty of Nash's mind, and brings us with tenderness, the story of a tortured-genius... His choice to shoot much of the film from Nash's point-of-view is both effective and intriguing...

The film peacefully highlights the value of a very clever man who gains a beautiful heart, mainly through the love, faith and strength of his lovely wife...
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Schizophrenia is ragged and dirty
Simbabbad5 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
... and in *no way* as clean, logical, and understandable as in pictured in that pathetic sum of tired Hollywood cliches.

I'm 27, and I've spent 16 years of my life struggling through delusional phobia and paranoid hallucinations. Like the main character in the film, I was successful mainly because of logic : because I kept thinking over and over to keep delusion away from reality, and to know what was really going on and what wasn't. In the end, I was really successful because of medication, by the way, but I certainly escaped madness because I knew before I took medication the difference between what was real and what wasn't.

So, I feel entitled to tell you that this movie is a total fraud. Not only does it cheat with the main character's story (who wasn't faithful to his wife, who was bisexual - something really important here), but mostly, it shows a comforting, tamed view of schizophrenia - which is entirely missing the point.

Schizophrenia is a mind structure, not a disease. A schizophrenic *isn't* a "normal man with a disease", it's someone who from early on views and feels things differently from most people : for him, things like time, space, and people's personalities aren't solid things. He feels it can be bent, it can change, it can mutate, and maybe even disappear. To cope with this, a schizophrenic has a rich, very imaginative inner world which "normal" people don't expect - but he's trapped in it because he can't relate with most people, and his world gets poorer and poorer until he finishes in a blank, delusive dead end.

This is very different to what's depicted in this ridiculous "cure", tear-jerking movie. It should be violently frightening. People other than the main character should appear strange, weird and absurd, like in Lynch's "Eraserhead", for example. There should be *really* impressive, weird, gross hallucinations, because that's what schizophrenia is all about. It's not about *details*.

I mean, watch "Naked Lunch", "Lost Highway", read P.K. Dick's "Martian Time-Split" or "Ubik", DO watch "The Cell", "Perfect Blue", "Dark City", or play "American McGee's Alice" on PC, and you may have a vague idea of what it's like. Don't watch the "feel good" movie of the month, with banal situations, cleaned characters and visuals, and stupid plot tricks. "The Cell" is the most accurate movie about a schizophrenic's mind, his visions and his inner consistency - it's violent, weird, confusing, and very, very scary.

Once again, Schizophrenia isn't about details, it's not a neat, tame trick played to you. It jumps in your face and won't let you go : walls fall apart, people turn into strange hostile creatures, you feel like you go backward in time, you're not sure you're who you think you are, everything feels... strange, unnatural. Believe me, this is much much more than what's depicted in this soap-like melodrama
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John Nash, schizophrenic genius.
Spikeopath5 April 2009
John Nash is something of a mathematical wizard. Constantly searching for something with which to make his name, he finds his calling by code breaking for the government. But with that comes a sense of paranoia and pretty soon John is sliding desperately into schizophrenia.

There is a school of thought that says any decent film about the mentally ill or afflicted is a sure fire way to attract the awards givers. Personally it bothers me that it bothers me that people view these films in this demeaning manner. If a story is worth telling then lets get it out there for all to see. Would the cinema world and all those stuffy film lovers really be happy if film makers didn't tell these remarkable stories? A Beautiful Mind is one such picture that divides opinions, although exemplary made and well put together, it doesn't adhere quite to the facts of Nash's life-it's an interpretation that smooths out the drama by way of delivering a safe and watchable biography. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning four for Best Film, Best Director {Ron Howard}, Best Supporting Actress {Jennifer Connelly} and Best Adapted Screenplay {Akiva Goldsman adapting from the book by Sylvia Nash}. Yet as great as that roll call is, the big surprise is the omission of a win for Russell Crowe in the Best Actor category. For as tidy and engrossing as the film is, and it is folks, it's because of the big Kiwi that the film breaks free of your standard emotional heart tugger. It's a superlative performance from Crowe and him not winning is probably more to do with his much publicised dust up at the BAFTAS a few weeks before the Oscar ceremony: than his undoubted acting ability.

The film as a whole should not be viewed as a representation of John Nash's life, many important things from Sylvia Nash's book have been omitted. But crucially it's important to note that in making this film, the makers have brought Nobel Prize winner Nash to the public's attention, whilst simultaneously giving awareness to the sadness of those suffering with schizophrenia. OK, so it's far from perfect in its portrayal of Nash the man, but ultimately the cinematic world is a far better place when the likes of A Beautiful Mind are being made and the film lovers are flocking to see it. And then some. 8/10
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seeing russell crowe in different view
farazahri_745 February 2007
for some unknown reasons, i almost never liked crowe until i saw this movie. He played the role so beautifully and totally absorbed into being john nash rather that just a typical Hollywood actor. I bet he must have done his homework thousand times before finally bring it to the screen. The way he walks, the way he slide himself between the gate at the abandoned warehouse where he thought was a Russian secret movement operation center, the way he talks, in fact, everything, was portrayed perfectly that it actually concealed that very russell crowe that i never actually liked.

The movie was somehow close to me as my uncle, who was a genius,also suffered from schizophrenia, but passed away years ago. I cried when nash was seen sitting on his house balcony because i remembered that was how my uncle used to sit for hours, solving puzzles. the only difference is that, nash had all the chances and supports from peers and the society but my uncle never did. It was a shame.

Connelly was good as ever, and she had always seen carrying this type of role. Loving yet not so mushy, smart yet vulnerable at time.

Despites all the comments about the movie not being so realistic and not really based on the facts of Nash, i still think it deserves one the of the most beautiful movies i had ever watched.
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A crazy genius
jotix10018 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Ron Howard has given us a film that's so different from the formula-oriented fare we receive from Hollywood, that this film, although studio born and bred, plays very much as an independent film.

The madness of John Nash is approached by the director, and the writer, Akiva Goldsman, with great honesty and restraint. The production has a look that tells us we are seeing the events in the life of this crazy mathematician as it really happened. Nothing seems to be out of place here with the right touch of atmospheric detail in showing the past, when Mr. Nash went from being an up and coming star in Princeton to his being selected for the Nobel prize in 1994, with enough time going into the schizophrenia that almost ruined his academic life, as well as his own marriage.

Russell Crowe plays this tormented soul with utter understanding of the man he is portraying. At no time does he strike a false note or gets too carried away with his own acting. That shows a firm hand by Mr. Howard, whose command seems to be behind every shot of this film.

Ed Harris is one of the best actors around and let no one tell you otherwise. He expresses so much with the simplest gestures any actor can make. His kind of acting is seamless from film to film. Here he gives a great and understated performance as the man in John Nash's nightmares and make-believe world.

The biggest surprise though, is Jennifer Connelly. She demonstrates here as well as in previous work, mainly her previous work in Requiem of a Dream, that she is in a league of her own. She's that rare breed of actresses that go from film to film acting in roles that she disappears into without any fanfare or hype.

Congratulations to Mr. Howard for this film.
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Not Beautifully Mined
tedg2 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

So frustrating. Once again we have an inept film about mathematics. Hard to understand: film is visceral, drawing from visually-based insights as abstractions of reality. That also describes the most exciting kind of mathematics.

The magic of the Lord of the Rings books wasn't in the story, but in the creation of an alternative world, complete with cosmology. The film lacks that inner reality and instead focuses on the story, basically one escape after another. But it is rousing good fun on that level. And so we have here. As with `Lord,' `Mind' knows where all the emotional strings are and pulls enough of them in the right order that we get successfully manipulated. But this film misses the opportunity of a lifetime to merge the images of math and film.

There are three good opportunities here, all missed:

The Nash Story Part 1: Mathematics is a matter of invention more than discovery. A clever mathematician can shape abstractions that influence all thought that follows. It is as close to God as one can get, and since most of the world is imaginary, one can argue that God will be bested at some point -- if it hasn't already occurred. There are conflicting factors involved: you need to be novel, but it must bind to some part of the world that exists. The unfamiliar made familiar; which can be done through `proofs' which is a way of presenting the new in such a way that everyone believes the world was made that way all along.

Which means you have to be extraordinarily clever in approaching a problem from an odd angle and finding the linkage. Nash was the best mind of the century in this first (challenging both Einstein and Von Neumann!). That's saying a whole lot. It means you have to have an intense focus that you maintain uninterrupted for months. The very idea exhausts. Nash had this in spades, perhaps his most remarkable quality because it was something he taught himself to do. Finally, mathematics is a verbal art, constructed in narratives with colleagues, not intrinsically in funny symbols as cartoons and movies would have it.

So think of this: you must talk with peers using a common vocabulary; but you must not in order to stay important and novel. You must shape the new in small terms, but have a global focus, holding mental orgasms for months. The tension between reaching far into the cosmos and keeping it in a conversation must have been immense. The book on which this film is based focuses on the social devolution of Nash, but the more interesting side is where his unanchored voyages took him. The film didn't mine this lode. In reality, Nash was not incompetent with soliciting sex: in fact he was very smooth and conducted multiple simultaneous bisexual affairs. That was part of the focused exercise to relate to the `world as-is.' Where he was incompetent was in mapping his visions to our lesser reality.

The Nash Story 2: Nash's madness was almost certainly caused by his `breaking' his mind by straying too far from reality to get outside this large problem he was working. The conspiracies came not from cold war silliness but something far deeper: Phil Dick science fiction and Kabbalah. Not stupid numbers but topologies (forms). Not codes but manifold patterns in higher spaces. Literally extraterrestrial voices. By the way: Alicia was as crazy, but I suppose since she had an uninteresting mind, it is not worth watching.

The most powerful scene (in the book at least) is when Nash and poet Robert Lowell were in the same `hospital.' Lowell entered Nash's room and mind daily and held forth on both for visitors. `Every word was his best friend.' Quite possibly the century's most imaginative and literate minds melded. I would have loved to have been there. (In fact I was in a thin way. I took the class Nash taught right after he was first committed -- his acolyte emulated his manner.)

The Nash Story 3 is the story about the Nobel. Uncle Alfie didn't like mathematicians (read `Jews') so refused to establish a prize in math. The `economics' was an independent prize grafted onto the Nobels as an `almost' Nobel. Most scientists are uncomfortable with economics being treated like physics because it is more obviously a constructed reality. Nash's prize prompted a debate within the Nobel community that destroyed the economics prize and is eating away at whether there is anything left but math when you skim more than superficially. It is one of the most profound institutional self-examinations ever. The film didn't mine this lode either.

All missed opportunities. Wouldn't you like to have been transported rather than merely made to cry?

What we get instead is a powerful actor and a competent director. Crowe's trick is to project his character not only into the space around him but into the space of the following scene -- largely by physical motion, usually involving the forehead. Good. But the mannerisms are not those of a mathematician in the Wiener tradition. The accent is not accurate, just an excuse to give new rhythms to the bland lines. The effect of the madness is not true, reflecting prior movies more than reality.

Howard's directing is completely without risk, art, interest. The one effect he tries is a bunch of fiddling with glass: shots through windows, often with (irrelevant) mathematical doodles. These are amateurish because the film has no inner cosmology within which one can register the metaphor. Compare this with the use of glass in `Spy Game.' MIT has a specific, abstract feel that is very easy to capture, but it somehow eluded the location scout.

See it. Enjoy it. But weep for the `lesser mortals' who fabricated it and mind the opportunities they missed.
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Typical Hollywood Whitewash
mchubirka4 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Even if you ignore the fact that Nash's homosexuality was completely ignored by the film, what about his first son who was never mentioned? The one he failed to support financially. What about his strained relationship with his wife? What about the ridiculous and non-factual introduction of his imaginary friends, which are used as a Greek chorus by Howard and the writers, because they can't move the story along any other way. Don't waste your time with the movie, read the book which is infinitely more interesting and gives you a real sense of the human being. Not this badly directed and filmed Hollywood whitewash. Ron Howard is probably one of the least interesting directors working in Hollywood today. So save your time and money, watch the PBS documentary or read the book.
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Beautifully done
smakawhat11 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Now this is the Russell Crowe I know and love. The Insider, L.A. Confidential... and now chalk up another calculating masterful performance.

A Beautiful Mind tells the autobiographical story of John Forbes Nash Jr. a distinguished professor from Princeton who went on to make some great theories and win the nobel prize. The centerpiece of the story is the fact that John Nash suffers from schizophrenia a debilitating condition for most people which leaves them helpless. Thus it is amazing that Nash has been able to achieve what he has. For the most part of the story his hallucinations turn out to institutionalize him at one point, when he thinks the Russians are trying to secretly send him coded messages through news publications.

First off the main performance by Crowe as Nash is amazing. This is the performance that I know he is capable of, complicated, passionate and serious, none of this gutteral one line BS that he uttered in Gladiator. Here we have a marvelous performance that Crowe spins as we watch Nash fall into despair, every twitch, eyes darting, and Nash's helplessness this is not an easy task for any actor. Nash is a recluse, almost an autistic savant, we see how he trys out his theories by writing on glass windows and stuffing himself in a corner of the library. He is seriously gifted, but a social misfit. Early on we hear how Nash describes how a grade school teacher mentioned that he was born with 2 heapings of brain but only 1/2 of heart.

Ron Howard's direction is great in exposing Nash's life. Probably the best scenes involve the use of how Nash comes up with his theories such as why the dynamics of a colleagues tie is so bad, or how a plan to get all of his college buddies laid leads to a theory that makes him famous.

Also what else can I say about Jeniffer Connely who plays his wife in the film. She is passionate and gives a full perfect 10 performance as well as the wife who is trying to survive with a husband she can't help. But the greatest achievement of this film is how it portrays mental illness from the perspective of the person suffering it.

Most films that deal with someone with a mental condition always place the focus on the people who are outside the person suffering, watching from a distance, trying to understand. Here we have a film that literaly puts us in the mind of the sufferer, as to what it is to live with such a debilitating illness. We get Nash's sense of accomplishment, but also his demons and paranoia. And probably the most important thing is that we understand that mental illness isn't something that gets cured, the people have to live with it, and it never goes away.

Also Crowe and Connely age in this film wonderfuly, so many films try to age actors/actresses in makeup and it doesn't work, but here it is done flawlessly..

Minor faults in the film deal with that some of the supporting characters are reduced to props and people we don't know, and at one point the film bogs slightly when Nash is trying to return to Princeton to study. But these points are minor since the performances of the main characters are so well done, and the stories focus is on them to begin with.

Crowe will probably get the best actor for this. Great film.

Rating 8 out of 10.
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stvincal2 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers

I've heard it been said that this film is "not your typical Hollywood movie", in that Ron Howard stays away from overt sentimentality, swelling violins and other devices used to club audiences over the head and send them home in a euphoric, feel-good haze that doesn't dissipate until the last bought and paid-for Academy Award is handed out on Oscar night.

Yes, Ron Howard stays away from overt sentimentality. And he stays away from everything else, too. Including moments that might reveal character, facts that would tell an honest, cohesive story and ANYTHING that would help make a captive audience believe in and care about what they're watching. Instead, we're led along through a series of hokey scenes showing John Nash at school, clearly AN OUTSIDER (watch how he upends a chess board! thrill as he tosses furniture out of a window! cheer while he launches a textbook into a garbage can and teaches the class HIS way!). Every time a moment comes along that might actually reveal character...SMASH!...cut to "two years later". Then Nash meets a girl in his class whose only apparent attribute is that she has the balls to tell a bunch of construction workers to shut up. Soon they're pointing at stars, then they're on a picnic then...BANG!...suddenly they're married! The entire flick has this rapid, TV movie-like pacing. Nothing is ever earned. All of the scenes are thrown at us in neat, easy-to-digest, simple-for-a-big-dumb-audience-to-understand fashion. Yet despite this rapid (vapid) pacing, the movie drags and sags.

As for a lack of swelling violins, uber-composer James Horner - raising "Titanic" - reprises the syrupy flutes from that film, to indicate to the audience of this film that THIS IS AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT. And a good thing, too, because the routine acting and the banal dialogue sure doesn't.

Russell Crowe's acting is uneven at best. In one scene he comes off as a shy, innocent dullard, then he's an arrogant prick, then back again. I understand he's supposed to be schizophrenic but there's a certain measuredness - a balanced realness - that's required to make any performance credible - even a schizophrenic. This is not displayed at all, and the result is that he lost my believability for the character and my sympathy for his situation. Top that off with an Aussie accent one minute, then some fake-o West Virginia country boy twang the next, then back again....there's a hundred other actors that, despite the handicap of Ron Howard's direction, could have brought this role to life. Don't get me wrong. Russell Crowe is a great actor. From "Romper Stomper" to "The Insider" he has given some amazing performances, but he was really the wrong choice here.

Jennifer Connelly, so great in "Requiem for a Dream", gives a throwaway performance here. In her defense, the role written for her is a WASTE. In scene after stilted scene, she plays the dutiful, suffering wife. Fine, she stuck with her husband throughout his "ordeal" (such as it was....this movie's idea of the torment of an unhinged mind boils down to a roomful of magazine clippings and yarn! scary!), but WHY!? Why not invite the audience into her mind as well, show us her trials, her demons, her reasons for hanging on? Certainly someone living with a schizophrenic 24 hours a day must have some story of her own to tell? Where is the slow, measured wearing-down of HER sanity? Instead we get a marginal acting job of a woman staring out a window with tears running down her face. POOF! Suddenly they have a child! WHY!? Was this planned? What are the ramifications now? How does Nash perceive the child? When the baby almost drowns (a scene that could have been and should have been extremely harrowing and emotionally wrenching) I DIDN'T EVEN CARE!!

Finally, it's unclear what this film is even ABOUT. Schizophrenia? "Sybil" - a TV movie - was far more compelling, believable and informative. A mathematician? What did he accomplish? Aside from the windowpane scrawlings at the beginning of the movie, I never saw him contribute anything mathematical. A teacher? There is about five minutes of film showing him teaching, but fails to detail his accomplishments, his inspiration to his students, his relationships with his peers and other faculty - NOTHING. A Nobel Prize winner? For what? Admittedly, I fell asleep during the last five or ten minutes of the film, just prior to him making his big acceptance speech. Perhaps I missed some bit of information, but what did he win a Nobel Prize for, being a psychotic jerk? The movie neither shows nor tells anything that might support otherwise.

In short, this movie is by-the-numbers filmmaking, and continues to add to the less-than-lackluster directing talents of Ron Howard. From what I understand, John Nash lived quite a colorful life that included womanizing, a nasty divorce, homosexual affairs, violent outbursts and strokes of mathematical genius that apparently changed our economic system. Was any of this portrayed in this piteous, watered-down film? NO!!! Somewhere here there is a good, compelling story that should have been told by a better director - and a better writer (it's not solely Howard's fault). Instead we get this manipulative, clap-trap crowd pleaser, showered with Oscar nominations and (rather appropriately) destined to take its place alongside "The English Patient". It's unfortunate that John Nash's life was reduced to this treacle. This "Beautiful Mind" was a terrible thing for Ron Howard - and Akiva Goldsman - to waste.
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"A Beautiful Mind" is a terrible thing to waste your time on
kehsmith27 June 2002
I cannot believe the people that rave about this movie. "A Beautiful Mind" is a terrible thing to waste your time on. The movie's direction is manipulative and the screenplay is horrid. I thought this was suppose to be based on the true life of John Nash. Didn't his wife divorce him in real life? Yes, she did. Wasn't Nash a homosexual? (Nash says no, but.) Yeah, right, Mr. Nash. Let's not use truths here let's just make up some stuff that an audience will like. Well, Hollywood, I might have liked the movie more if his wife had divorced him or if there was a homosexual tinge to the film. I needed to feel for the character and all this character was is a jerk. Hell, he says it himself, "I have a chip on both shoulders". The movie makes him come off as a womanizing jerk. How can I care about him. Well, because Hollywood says we should feel for him and the media says it is a great film. That's why we like it. Give me a break. I know this day will never come, but, I sure wish it would, when will people learn to make there own decisions about movies, music and tv shows, etc. instead of allowing themselves to be conned into liking something just because the media says it is good. And, don't get me started on the Academy Awards because all that is now is a popularity contest. The best films or actors or screenplays, whatever, might get nominated but they don't have a chance in hell winning, ie. "Memento", "Ghost World", "Mulholland Drive", etc.
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Moving but overrated...
MartinHafer11 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"A Beautiful Mind" is a film about the mathematician John Nash. It is very cleverly written and directed, as about mid-way through the film you learn something very, very interesting about the film. I'd say more, but I don't want to ruin it--especially since the film makers did such a great job in presenting Nash's mental illness--something he's struggled with for many years.

I enjoyed "A Beautiful Mind". It was a lovely semi-fictional biography of the life of a brilliant mathematician. But, as I just said, it's SEMI-fictional--meaning a lot of the film just never occurred and the story of the man's life was often sanitized. The result is a very uplifting film...but one that is also a bit phony. And, as a retired history teacher, I hate this about the film. Additionally, I think the 2002 Oscars was a rather poor year, as although the film did win the Best Picture award, the competition wasn't particularly strong. As a result of all these factors, I think the film is overrated. Does that mean you should not watch it? Certainly not. Just understand that Hollywood often gets it wrong--and they did here. And, incidentally, another thing that is just plain wrong was Russell Crowe's accent. I don't know where he was supposed to be from, but it was no where near West Virginia.
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A Beautiful Lie
benoit-319 September 2010
If this movie is the nadir of Hollywood dishonest trickery and whitewashed falsehoods masquerading as fact, how does one explain its popularity? Here are some clues:

In the part where the film does talk about mathematics, it makes the viewer feel that he is more intelligent than he actually is, which is always a good idea when you're aiming for the lowest common denominator and you want your picture to sell tickets in the Ozarks as well as in Hollywood.

In the part where the film talks about romance, the worst possible woman's picture clichés are dragged out to show Nash as "different" and desirable. In actuality, he was nerdish, odd and gay.

In the part that talks about his schizophrenia, terrible care is taken to avoid mentioning the fact that the 1950's persecution of homosexuals had a lot to do with Nash's worsening condition. John Nash was forced to conceal his homosexuality and was persecuted for it by the same government that expected him to decrypt secrets for them and keep quiet about it. If that isn't enough to turn any brilliant mind into a paranoid-schizophrenic, I really don't know what is.

In all the other parts, the bad script and the bad out-of-place acting by miscast actors are immensely aided by photographic special effects and by the music (or rather non-music) of James Horner, the inventor of today's omnipresent minimalist "fear music", where the cinema's sub-woofers are put to maximum use to make the viewer feel danger directly through his anal sphincter, the only part of one's anatomy that is actually needed to "enjoy" this film as written.
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a disgraceful and irresponsible film
Ericq5 April 2004
I have experienced schizophrenia first-hand: I have a brother suffering from the disease.

I have also read Sylvia Nasar's brilliant biography of John Nash.

Against that background, I have to say that the film "A Beautiful Mind" is a reprehensible example of filmmaking.

It's a complete fabrication of the real story of John Nash. And it's also an irresponsible and grossly inaccurate picture of mental illness and its devastating effect on the family.

This movie has taken a very sad story of a man with mental illness and turned it into an absurd fairy tale.

That this film would be showered with awards is only more disgraceful. It shows how the elite in Hollywood are completely out of touch with reality.

The true story of John Nash is not told in this film. Nor is it any way an accurate depiction of mental illness.

It's nothing short of revisionist trash.
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May the Lord preserve us from Russell Crowe
thamesmead10 March 2003
I really don't get all the adulation that this film has received. It's mawkish, unnecessarily manipulative and dodges many of the big issues - ie Nash's affairs and his predilection for having sex with men in public places. That, I suppose, in the context of a commercial Hollywood film is just about tolerable, but what's with all the praise for Russell Crowe's performance? The man just seems to shuffle about, clutching his briefcase and wearing a grungy hat and somehow that seems to qualify as fine acting? Anyone who has ever known a person with mental health problems will realise that Crowe's performance is little short of caricature. It is also rather offensive. And, dare I say, just on the right side of being truly terrible
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