A Beautiful Mind (2001)

beautiful mind poster 2001 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Interesting choice for a film

One of the worst Best Pictures, disappointing

Movie Info

Movie Name:  A Beautiful Mind

Studio:  Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures/Imagine Entertainment

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  December 13, 2001 (Premiere)/December 21, 2001 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

beautiful mind john nash russell crowe

I unlock the secrets of the world!!!

John Nash (Russell Crowe) is a genius leading a secret life.  He is working for the highest branches of government as a code breaker doing work that no one can ever know about.  Working for agent William Parcher (Ed Harris), Nash cannot tell his wife Alicia (Jennifer Connelly) or even is best friend from college Charles Herman (Paul Bettany).  There is a problem however:  none of it is real.  Trapped by his genius, Nash is a schizophrenic with delusions and talking to invisible people including Parcher, Herman, and Charles’ niece Marcee (Vivien Cardone).  Fighting for control of his life and marriage, Nash must come back from the brink and could become one of the greatest in his field in the process.

Directed by Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind is a biopic drama.  It is an adapted the unauthorized 1998 Pulitzer Prize winning biography of John Nash by the same name written by Sylvia Nasar.  The movie was lauded by critics but received criticism for deviating from real events.  The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Connelly), and Best Adapted Screenplay with nominations for Best Actor (Crowe), Best Film Editing, Best Makeup, and Best Original Score.

beautiful mind jennifer connelly russell crowe stars

Hey…I’m a hot mess…just to warn you

I have to say A Beautiful Mind is one of my least favorite Best Pictures.  The movie is trite and is blatant in its weak attempts to woo the audience with sentimentality and schmaltzy writing.  Is it a horrible picture?  No, but it doesn’t deserve the praise it receives.

Much like the movie Crash which also won Best Picture, I think that with the story is one which people thought they were seeing something complex and artsy, but it was written so simple that everyone could get it.  Cheesy moments like pointing at the stars and obvious crazy behavior that makes no logical sense when you are watching it even the first time (no one ever talks to Bettany and birds don’t fly when his niece runs around them).  It wasn’t a movie with a twist…it just thought it had a twist.

beautiful mind john nash asylum russell crowe

I don’t even know how to add…it’s all in my head

The movie also really skewed history.  Nash didn’t suffer visions from all reports; his delusions were auditory.  Many of the locations of the film weren’t accurate and didn’t match with periods in Nash’s life.  It also severely alters aspects of Nash’s relationship with his wife and controversy also arose in that Nash allegedly had homosexual relationships during a period presented in the film.

I loved Russell Crowe in L.A. Confidential, but he often isn’t a very good actor.  He has that monotone nature of acting like a number of other leading men but just lacks the spark that some of his contemporaries have.  Connelly is always good, but her character doesn’t get enough screen time.  Bettany and Harris as Crowe’s fantasy visions are over-the-top (rightfully so) and they act over-the-top, but like Connelly the script and story really don’t lend themselves to very interesting characters.  I also find Christopher Plummer is criminally underused as Crowe’s doctor.

beautiful mind ed harris paul bettany vivien cardone

We’re coming for you

Like the story and the characters, the film also doesn’t look great.  It goes for some painfully obvious dissolves (like riding in a figure eight which dissolving to an infinity sign) and its attempts to be edgy involve barroom pick-up scenarios which are less creative than the filmmakers think.

A Beautiful Mind falls into those categories of pictures that I can’t give a one or two to because they don’t technically deserve that, but I’d rather watch a picture that scored a one or two because they are more fun.  A Beautiful Mind has no fun with the story, panders to the viewers, and is a dull, lifeless biopic of a man who probably is much more interesting than the movie makes him out.


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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