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"A Beautiful Mind" - {Blu-Ray} - (Wayne)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Universal
Genre:
Drama
Release Date:
1/30/11
Special Features:

See Below

Review:

Imagine that you have a best friend that you spent some of your best and worst times with; now imagine that you discover every single moment that you spent with that person never really happened because that friend never existed. That's the basis of the film "A Beautiful Mind" based on the best selling biography of mathematician John Nash. Nash came up with a pivotal concept that "completed" a theory by economist Adam Smith. Nash's Equilibrium altered the economic landscape we live in as well as game theory applied to war games, etc. ***

There were some people that criticized the film because it wasn't 100% faithful to the biography and didn't pointed out Nash's other flaws including his bisexuality, his own son's schizophernia and other personal issues that dogged Nash's life. The fact is that the film isn't about ALL of Nash's problems but his brilliant mind as well as his slide into madness. When a director makes a film they have to choose a path to tell a story--unlike a book it's extremely difficult to take a story like Nash's and condense it into a two hour narrative. Director Ron Howard and screenwriter Avika Goldsman chose the most clear pathway--Nash's brilliance in mathematics AND his slide into mental illness. ***

Ron Howard's film of the biography "A Beautiful Mind" focuses on John Nash (Russell Crowe in a brilliant, often subtle performance)a shy, brilliant mathematician attending university to earn his doctorate. Nash drives himself to come up with his one brilliant idea (after being told by his professor that most important mathaticians come up with their claim to fame early). As Nash struggles with developing and defining the Nash Equilibrium. His roommate an English major Charles Herman (Paul Bettany)doesn't help matters distracting Nash. As time passes Nash also finds love Alicia Larde (Jennifer Connelly)a student who attends one of the classes he teaches. Nash works his "great idea" only to find himself sucked into helping government agent William Parcher (Ed Harris)who insists that Nash work for him to help the U.S. Government find patterns in every day magazines and events that might be secret messages being sent to Soviet agents. ***

Then Nash discovers something unexpected because of his wife--some of his friends and even his "mission" is all the visual and auditory hallucinations of his own paranoid schizophrenia. Suddenly, Nash's world crumbles and he watches as he loses everything important to him from the ability to trust his perceptions to his wife. ---

Image:

The Blu-ray release from Universal features an exceptional looking high def transfer. Colors are nicely captured. The Blu-ray captures Roger Deakins' photography with good detail and textures.The transfer exhibits the changing color scheme and textures as John Nash becomes increasingly paranoid. Image detail/sharpness is a tad inconsistent but I suspect that has more to do with the intent of the director and Deakins' decisions in how the scenes are photographed. Edge enhancement crops up quite a bit which is distracting but it isn't the worst I've seen in some films. ***

The 5.1 audio mix sounds terrific with a nice immersive, rich mix that works well at creating Nash's real and imaginery world. ---

Special Features:

There isn't anything new that I noticed in the special features but it does appear as if almost all of the extras have been ported over from the regular DVD edition. The only thing I detected as missing were the clips from the Academy Awards. The two commentary tracks are in tact as well featuring director Ron Howard and writer Avika Goldsman. Unfortunately, all of the extras are presented in standard definition.

Final Words:

What's clever and works really well in "A Beautiful Mind" is the WAY that Howard and Goldsman have decided to tell the story; they make us identify with shy, charismatic John Nash, realize how brilliant he is, see his experience at the University from HIS perspective. Howard and Goldsman then turn our expectations on its head by demonstrating that much of what WE experienced with Nash may or may not be real and that he suffers from schizophrenia. We discover that a lot of what Nash "knows" to be true isn't at all and that he lives in a world of shadows suggesting reality but often never touching on it. ***

There was plenty of criticism about the fact that "A Beautiful Mind" wasn't faithful to the book of the same name and played down Nash's bisexuality, racism and other personal issues. As fascinating as Nash's life is, the film fictionalizes Nash's experience and focuses on his unexpected journey into madness pulling us, the audience, into the rabbit hole with Nash. It's a clever conceit and one that works well allowing us to both understand Nash, sympathize with him enough so that WE feel like we are sliding down into the same madness that has consumed him. ***

The bottom line is that this is an extremely good upgrade picture wise for "A Beautiful Mind". The film doesn't have a perfect presentation and there are some flaws (such as edge enhancement)but, on the whole, it looks exceptionally good.

 

 
 
 
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