[MOVIE REVIEW]Crowe shines as fallen genius

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Crowe shines as fallen genius

One of the most tragic things to witness - and fine fodder for filmmakers - is when genius is brought down by mental illness. In this regard, the life of John Forbes Nash Jr. leaves nothing to be desired in terms of human drama, and has been brought to the screen by the director Ron Howard as "A Beautiful Mind."

This 2001 film, which is a strong candidate for an Oscar as best movie and received four Golden Globe awards this year, including best drama and best actor, is reminiscent of "Shine" (1997): Substitute the ingenious but troubled mathematician Nash for the pianist David Helfgott and you get the picture. And "A Beautiful Mind" is every bit as touching as "Shine," evidenced by the teary eyes of viewers at local previews.

God endowed Nash with an exceptional mathematical mind, and good looks to boot, but took it all away with schizophrenia. Even before his breakdown, Nash was an eccentric introvert. His 27-page thesis on his Nash Equilibrium theory, published in 1949, prompted his colleagues to call him the second Einstein. But soon after that point and until 1994, when he was honored with a Nobel prize, life was hell for him and his wife Alicia.

While "Shine" focused more on the individual story, "A Beautiful Mind" provides a broader variety of perspectives. It includes healthy helpings of tense mystery, elaborate psychological diagnoses and a bit of romance, all revolving around the basic human drama serving as the main dish. Though it's far from a romantic film, Nash's manner of proposing to Alicia - asking for "verifiable data on whether they will have a long relationship" - is undeniably charming. The more well-rounded story makes the film more Oscar-worthy, and Howard's deft arrangement of the elements of Nash's story ensures commercial appeal.

Russell Crowe, who won the best actor Oscar last year for "Gladiator," stars as Nash, and Jennifer Connelly as Alicia. Both turn in superb performances, especially Crowe.

Howard considers the movie a work of fiction based on Nash's true story. Indeed, many of the unpleasant aspects of Nash's illness are omitted. At any rate, Howard succeeds in creating a highly compelling human drama.

Moviegoers will have to wait until Feb. 22 to see "A Beautiful Mind," because so many other local and international films are scheduled to be screened over the lunar New Year's holiday.

by Chun Su-jin

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