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A Beautiful Mind is an award-winning movie if ever there was one. This biopic of mathematician John Forbes Nash is two parts Shine to one part Good Will Hunting. Scripted by Akiva Goldsman (Lost in Space) and directed by Ron Howard (The Grinch)--both trying to get sincere and serious after previous movies--it showcases a big, compelling performance from Russell Crowe as a genius whose eccentricities turn out to be down to a genuine mental illness. Though his early work as a student offered a breakthrough that eventually won him the 1994 Nobel Prize, Nash goes off the deep end in later life.
The film works better in the early paranoid stretches--which include a wonderful 1950s spy movie parody as Nash is sucked into an imagined world of fighting commie atom spies--than it does with the inspirational ending, where Nashs handicaps are overcome so he can triumph at the end. Crowe's genuinely fine work still seems a bit Shine/Rain Man/Forrest Gump-ish in mannerism, yet experience shows this can be a powerful career move. Crowe gains sterling support from Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Paul Bettany and Christopher Plummer--some playing a mere character in Nashs world.