25 September 2005 | bob the moo
Not perfect but a typically polished and professional story that is well told
As a young man, John Nash is antisocial, arrogant but quite the mathematical genius. After months of failing to live up to expectation due to focusing on trying to find formula within the mundane. However a major finding brings him to the attention of the Government and sees him set up within a secretive department looking to crack the code that will lead them to a Russian bomb hidden somewhere within the US. Starting as just a series of problems, John's involvement deepens as the Russians move to stop the code breakers and only John's handler Parcher can protect him. Meanwhile the secrets start to affect John's personal life.
Despite all the hype and awards I didn't feel that fussed about seeing this film and just decided to wait for television to bring it to me for free. Having finally seen it I must admit that, while not being anything brilliant, it is certainly a very professional and engaging product despite some big flaws. The story is based on reality (if you pardon the irony of that) and it doesn't matter too much if it skims over some issues and omits some very well-publicised aspects of Nash's life. The story is well written and is the better for focusing on the confusion within Nash between reality and imagined because it does help move the film forward all the time. Conversely the weakest moments are in the rather mawkish and sentimental moments within reality fortunately these are not that often and generally the film moves forward well and I did find myself quite engaged by it.
Howard's direction is up to his usual standard, by which I mean that it is polished and professional even if it does lack anything in the way of flair or unique talent. Crowe is very strong though. Much better than the ego and the headlines would suggest, here he delivers a performance that convincingly changes across the film and does the tricky thing of making the audience feel and understand a character in a way that was very difficult to pull off. Connelly is nearly as strong in a smaller role and Ed Harris has fun with a powerful character who noticeably lifts the pace when he is on screen. Bettany is his usual self and good value for it and support is generally good from Plummer, Lucas, Goldberg and a few others.
Overall a very polished drama but one that is engaging for the majority. The pace is generally good despite sometimes being a bit too sentimental and laboured, and the delivery generally pulls off the difficult task of putting us into Nash's world and allowing us to feel for him and understand him.