Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris
Director: Ron Howard
Running Time: 135 mins
A Beautiful Mind is an American film about the life of esteemed mathematician John Nash, who entered into the world of codebreaking in the early years of the Cold War, and had his life turned completely on its head by it.
Now, this is a film of two halves. The first half was, in my opinion, very dull, lacking in emotion, painfully slow, and featured a poor performance from Russell Crowe. However, there is a turn about an hour and a half into this film that completely changes the dynamic of the entire story, and saved this from being a truly tedious movie.
I’ll start with what annoyed me most about the first half of this film: that it seemed like real Oscar bait. It’s an intriguing story, but the way it’s presented in the establishing stages feels so much like a Chariots Of Fire-type story: intending to be dramatic and important, but lacking in real intrigue and emotion.
What was also interesting about this first part of the film was that the performances on and off screen just weren’t as good as the final section. I just couldn’t buy Russell Crowe as this asocial mathematician. He got the genius part spot on, but the character just didn’t seem as socially awkward as the rest of the story makes out to be. Meanwhile, Ron Howard’s directing in the initial phase was not at all interesting. I find that many of Howard’s films do look a bit dry, but this was really boring to look at at the beginning of the story, and that, coupled with Crowe’s off acting, made me lost my interest.
However, you get some fresh breath blown into this film at the appearance of Jennifer Connelly halfway through the opening stages. Initially, she is by far the best performer on screen, and it was pretty much only her relationship with John Nash that interested me, not the main character at all.
Then, there comes a hugely exciting turn about an hour and a half into the film. Now, even though this is a true story, I won’t spoil the twist for you, because I didn’t know it, and it was massively exciting for me to see. What I will tell you, however, is that this film turns from an Oscar bait-y biopic into an intriguing and exciting psychological drama.
Following that twist, Russell Crowe’s performance changes significantly, and he becomes much better for it, whilst the direction and the cinematography becomes a lot more exciting and mysterious, adding to the eventual tension and drama of the latter stage of the story.
Yes, it’s arguable that the film does drop off a bit again back to being a biopic right at the end, but the effect of the middle period on me massively increased my interest and made the whole film so much more exciting to watch.
Overall, this gets a 7.5, because despite its stunning central period, the first hour and a half of this film was just so painfully slow and boring.