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A Beautiful Mind(PG-13)
Universal Studios
Official Site
Director: Ron Howard
Producers: Ron Howard, Brain Grazer
Written by: Akiva Goldsman
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connolly
Rating: out of 5

This movie contains an interesting blend of talents. On main stage, we have the Oscar-winning (for GLADIATOR) and Oscar-deserving (for THE INSIDER) megastar, Russell Crowe. Directing the show, we get Ron Howard, in all his sporadic excellence. And the man behind the words is the loathsome, infamous screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (the bad BATMAN movies and LOST IN SPACE). With this crew, it comes as no surprise that the film is a glorious display of mediocrity.

The film tells the story of John Forbes Nash, Jr. (Crowe), a mathematical genius who revolutionized the economics world with his revisions of Smith’s principles. The story follows his career through its ups and downs, ending anti-climactically when Nash discovers that he’s always possessed that which he seeks, a heart. (Awww, how sweet.) The movie is a smashing tour-de-force of dopey sentimentalism, once and for all proving that the power of science cannot contest the power of love.

Crowe is at his strongest ever. His performance possibly surpasses THE INSIDER, yet the movie fails to carry him as that one did. He is like the lineman who gives the best football game of his career, but his teammates are unable to do anything with it. The direction lacks innovation or significance. Ron Howard employs the most boring dolly and crane movements I’ve ever seen, including the oh-so clichéd time-passage shot. Also, the warmth of the cinematography employed overrides many of the film’s darkest, most troubled moments. Therefore the fear and sadness of the characters are lost. If it weren’t for the deity-like performance of Crowe, you would never be able to feel the character’s pain. Crowe’s supporting cast warrants few remarks. Connolly never convinces you why she loves him, and Harris’s part amounts to a series of cold looks and smooth monologues. The ensemble is forgotten moments after leaving the screen.

Finally, we come to the script. To be fair, Goldsman’s script far exceeds his previous accomplishments. There is intrigue, one very strong character, and true emotion. And only for a few moments does the script dip into overbearingly cheesy mode. But it still lacks. Even at 135 minutes, Nash’s life feels incomplete. The ending rushes to satisfy the audience’s desire for closure but never gives proper weight to the significance of the achievement. And for a story that focuses on the power of love, the love has a wholly un-powerful effect. Despite these shortcomings, Crowe nearly pulls it off. I even got a lump in the throat at the end, before I realized that the sentiment of the moment did not fit into the story. Perhaps with a more creative director, this film could be Oscarworthy.

—Zack Schenkkan

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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