WHAT I LIKED: Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman's 'A Beautiful Mind,' follows the story of an awkward and obsessive maths professor John Nash who seemingly becomes part of a secret government program that begins to take over his personal and professional life. Shady dealings go on outside the university, he becomes increasingly paranoid and obsessive as he's warned of enemy surveillance, and few things suggest that what we're witnessing are anything other than the truth. As a result, when he's eventually taken to a psychiatric hospital and it's all declared a schizophrenic dillusion, it's not only pretty damn shocking, but it also allows us to understand how real he believes those things were. We even question it ourselves to start with, but as he begins on his journey to recovery and relapse, it becomes increasingly heartbreaking to watch.
It's a fascinating true character story, but you understand and empathise with John not only because the script lays the narrative out perfectly, but also because it's performed so well. Russell Crowe does a masterful job of avoiding stereotypes and grandstanding, and instead builds a character who isn't only personified by his mental illness, but mostly by his incredible brain and his human emotions. He does this mostly through nuanced physically and facial expression, and the fact he has such a great cast of supporting players and the ever-assured hand of Ron Howard behind the camera means it all translates to engage you emotionally in his journey.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: It's hardly a ground-breaking or particularly profound piece of filmmaking, but what it does it does exceedingly well.
VERDICT: A graceful character biopic that treats John Nash with nuance, 'A Beautiful Mind,' is brilliantly written, directed and performed, and will ultimately have you thoroughly engaged from start to finish.