Socialist Worker

A Beautiful Mind: More mind games than the heart of this genius

by Sally Campbell
Issue No. 1790

'The real John Nash Jr was schizophrenic, and he did win the Nobel Prize, but that's where the similarity ends'. So said a mathematician discussing A Beautiful Mind on the radio. Most biopics I've seen are either wildly inaccurate, boring, or so whitewashed as to strip the humanity out of their subject. This one falls in to the first and last categories, while also managing to be boring.

The film follows John Nash Jr, a maths genius, from his first day at Princeton to the Nobel Prize awards ceremony 50 years on. He shuffles around, Rain Man style, not looking people in the eye. Occasionally he comes out with some sharp and insightful comment that only someone with no sense of etiquette would ever say.

Then, according to the film, he meets his beautiful wife, struggles to control his paranoid schizophrenia, and the human spirit triumphs in the end. The real story is somewhat different.

For a start, Nash had several affairs with men at college and later. His marriage is also idealised – the real Mrs Nash divorced him, only remarrying him years later. Nor does the film really deal with his struggle with schizophrenia. I realise it must be difficult to portray the intensity and drama of being really good at maths, but flying numbers didn't do it for me.


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Reviews
Sat 9 Mar 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1790
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