A Beautiful Mind

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 2 Hours and 14 Minutes

Reviewer: Dale
Grade: B

"A Beautiful Mind" is, sometimes, a great movie. At several points, it seems that it is going to be one of the best films of the year. But, ultimately, it just has one too many problems. Which is a shame, because the majority of it is an arresting, fascinating film.

Russell Crowe portrays John Nash. The film first joins Nash in his college days. He skips out of class and alienates himself from all his peers. He spends every waking moment of his day searching for the one original idea which, he believes, will make his life worthwhile and will put him in a place of prestige far above his colleagues. But his single-minded devotion to an original notion comes at a price. He becomes a prized math whiz, a professor, a code breaker for the government, and many other things before suffering a paralyzing breakdown which forces him to re-evaluate his life and everything that is important in it.

Russell Crowe gives an astonishing performance here, which is never less than utterly absorbing. It's hard to match this man up with the man who played a vengeful gladiator not so long ago. He is riveting and intense and remarkable. I can think of worse nominees for Best Actor. Unlike last year, he actually deserves a shot at the statuette with this one. Jennifer Connelly is also good as his much set upon wife. Though I don't think she deserves quite all the kudos she has received. I have seen better from her, though it is nice to see her finally get some recognition for something. Even the direction by Ron Howard is very good. The film is put together with style and finesse. I liked the use of special effects to give you some insight into Nash's mind. I liked the editing and, for the most part, the structure of the film.

For its first hour and a half, that is. It's at that point that the film begins to drag. It just keeps going and going and going. It has some things to say, yes, and it makes some good points. But it is here that it begins to get sappy. All of Nash's mental problems and personal issues, apparently, are magically solved by his love for a beautiful woman. According to Hollywood, this is the solution for every problem. According to Hollywood, I'm sure Hitler wouldn't have killed all those Jews if he had loved the right woman. I'm so sick of this Hollywood love story bullshit by now that I could puke on my shoes. I mean, COME ON! In reality, Nash's wife left him for a while. She did get back together with him eventually. But that's a lot more interesting and, of course, a lot more realistic than this film. And the ending also contains some of the sappiest dialogue in recent memory. "A beautiful mind does not compare to a beautiful heart." Aw, isn't that sweet. Get Hallmark on the line. Can some problem have a solution aside from LOVE for once?

But it's still a very good movie. That's what makes the parts that drag and the parts that are overly saccharine so unbearable. After you've seen a man gouge into his arm with his own fingernails, it just seems that there are more important things than love, y'know? I don't mind if it shows his wife and their relationship. I just don't think it should have dwelt on it. And it doesn't, until the ending. But it's still a fine movie. And it's a nice step in the right direction for the director of "The Grinch".