Following the end of World War II the world was gripped in a fear that lasted into the 1990s. that was known as the “Cold War” and resulted as mass panic that was spread by the media regarding the threat of Communism. Entire communities of sane and rational people began to see Communist agents lurking everywhere and even went so far as to blame innocent people of being in league or sympathetic to Communist ideologies.
While a time of deep fears, it was also a time of great secrets that were conceived and created by some of the greatest minds of our times. In some cases, people were asked to live secret lives and keep the nature of their work hidden from everyone, including their spouses. It was the work of great minds in secret that brought on the end of World War II by the creation of the atomic bomb, and the threat of Communism drove the government to new heights of security.
In “A Beautiful Mind” viewers are taken to 1947 and introduced to a young man named John Nash (Russell Crowe) who attended Princeton University on a scholarship. A brilliant man, who lacked social skills and the discipline to attend class, Nash nevertheless continued to seek for his original idea that would set him apart from his peers.
Despite being ridiculed by his peers for his lack of charm and social skills, Nash made a few friends amongst his peer group and set about to disprove an economic theory that had stood as the basis for all economics for 150 years. John’s hard work pays off as he proves his theory and shows the flaws and new solutions for the old beliefs. The discovery is hailed by his teachers and peers as a brilliant discovery and soon lands Nash a coveted position at a top defense laboratory. It is while working at the lab that John receives a mysterious visitor who asks him to help break a complex Russian code. John is able to solve the code in no time at all, and is soon working for the Defense Department undercover as a code breaker. The uncanny skill that John displays attracts the attention of Johnathan Parchar (Ed Harris), a secret operative who oversees John and his assignments. It seems that that Johns lack family and friends is a desirable trait, as he has nothing to distract him from his work nor compromise national security.
John seems very content in his work and all is fine in his life. While teaching a class, John meets a beautiful young lady named Alicia (Jennifer Connelly), and the two soon fall in love and marry. Just when things should be perfect in John’s life, his secret life starts to interfere on his normal life, and drives John to the edge of sanity.
The brilliant John Nash who is capable of solving the most difficult and complex equations known to man, and is now having to come to grips with what his life has become as the lines between reality and fantasy start to blur, and the clarity and order of his equations becomes unraveled as does his life.
Directed by Ron Howard from a script by Akiva Goldsman, “A Beautiful Mind” is based on the real life story of John Nash that was chronicled in the book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar. Howard’s directing is strong and he paces the film brilliantly. The life of Nash is gripping, and Howard allows the audience to develop a bond between the characters at a steady pace and shows their strengths as well as their flaws. The real story of the film is Crowe who gives a brilliant performance as Nash. He is gripping, and able to transform himself into his character so completely that he becomes Nash and viewers will forget that he is playing a role. Crowe deserves to get an Academy Award nomination for his performance, which is superior to his Oscar-winning role in Gladiator.
The film shows the triumph and tragedy of life, as well as the beauty of the human spirit to overcome and survive. An effective and very good film and the supporting roles portrayed by Harris and Connelly are strong and compelling, as they support but never overpower the brilliant performance of Crowe in this Oscar worthy film.