Rated PG, directed by Ron Howard, with Russell Crowe (John Forbes Nash Jr), Jennifer Connelly (Alicia Nash), Ed Harris (Parcher), Judd Hirsch (Helinger), Adam Goldberg (Sol), Paul Bettany (Charles), running time: 129 minutes.
Ron Howard traces the nearly true story of John Forbes Nash Jr., a brilliant mathematician who seems to see the mechanics of the universe and understand them. His gift is noticed by no less than the Department of Defense, where he's put to work cracking codes and helping grease the anti-communist machine that ran at full stream after World War II. Despite his powerful intellect, Nash is a fragile figure and, under the pressure of his job, succumbs to schizophrenia for some 30 years before quieting the voices in his head. What A Beautiful Mind does best is relate the devastation of mental illness in a more sympathetic way than perhaps any film before it. What it does not do is tell an honest story of a man who abandoned his first wife and child to poverty, engaged in homosexuality and treated people like shrubbery. Judged on it's own merits, though, it is one of the best films of the year.