Sunday, July 5, 2009

54. A Beautiful Mind



A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Directed by Ron Howard

“It's only in the mysterious equation of love that any logical reasons can be found. I'm only here tonight because of you. You are the only reason I am... you are all my reasons.”- John Nash (played by Russell Crowe)

While others find the quote above sentimental and schmaltzy, I find it to be a powerfully moving line that sums the film up perfectly. For those that find it to be a bit much for them, I would ask them, “Does Nash earn that line?” For instance, it would be schmaltzy if Nash could legitimately explain the destination of his life without Alicia (his wife whom he was speaking too). In watching A Beautiful Mind, one goes on a journey with John Nash; through his discoveries, his triumphs, and his dark valley’s. It’s a hard journey and one that he clearly could not have made without his wife, Alicia. For that reason, not only does Nash earn the line, but also it’s truthful summation of the human experience. In an odd kind of way, it reminds me of James Cagney at the end of Yankee Doodle Dandy delivering his famous line to President Roosevelt, “My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you”.

Unlike Cagney’s big and athletic performance as George Cohan, Crowe’s John Nash is a performance built on mannerisms, expressions, and incredible voice work. While others find it a bit over the top, I think this is one of Crowe’s career best performances (in a career full of them) and the one that should have won him an Oscar. Jennifer Connelly did manage to win an Oscar for her deserving supporting role as Alicia. Ron Howard and James Horner also deliver wonderful work here, as they successfully meld professional craftsmanship with just enough creativity to deliver a unique experience out of what could’ve been a traditional biopic.

In the end, A Beautiful Mind is one my favorite films because it not only takes us through the journey of a man’s life, but it dares to speak strong truths about the lessons learned on that journey. The message resonates with me in a way that few films do, and its for that reason that I wouldn’t want to do without it.

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