(out of 5)
Russell Crowe dominates this powerful film biography of Nobel Prize award-winner John Nash, a math genius who wrote a still-influential thesis during his university studies in the fifties, only to succumb to paranoid schizophrenia in his later years. Jennifer Connelly stars as his long-suffering wife, who loves him enough to stand by him during his most difficult times when he is engorged with government conspiracy theories, and believes in him enough to not commit him to an insane asylum even when it seems that it could be dangerous for her and their son to keep him around. These two performers are so wonderfully intense that they are capable of making you forget that director Ron Howard is helming this film with the emotional breadth of a twelve year-old, smothering the finer points of the story into lame feelgood pandering. Were it not for Crowe’s willingness to look ugly and be admirable in a naturally human way, Nash’s story would have become more like Forrest Gump than this comfortably entertaining cross between The Manchurian Candidate and Mr. Holland’s Opus. Paul Bettany is excellent in a supporting role as one of Crowe’s roommates, and Roger Deakins contributes gorgeous cinematography to the film (see also The Man Who Wasn’t There).
Directed by Ron Howard
Cinematography by Roger Deakins
Music by James Horner
Production Design by Wynn Thomas
Costume Design by Rita Ryack