Movie Review: A Beautiful Mind

Warning, this is a review, which means it will contain spoilers.


A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 drama inspired by the life of mathematician John Nash. The movie begins with John in graduate school at Princeton University, searching for an original idea to write his doctoral thesis on. The movie follows John’s life as he starts his career, falls in love, and almost loses everything. Overall, I would recommend watching A Beautiful Mind because the story is very optimistic; delves into intense topics, such as mental illness and the struggles of connecting; and it stays true to John Nash’s life.

During the film, the audience experiences almost everything through the eyes of John Nash, with the exceptions being his treatment, when Alicia goes to his work and asks what he is working on, and when are given an outsider’s point of view to see that his delusions aren’t real. John Nash worked for the department of defense through MIT but was only received a single assignment to break Russian codes. Unfortunately, John, in the midst of a prolonged psychotic break, believed that he had been recruited by a government agent named Parcher to continue this work. As this is happening, John meets the love of his life, Alicia, and they married in 1957 and were soon expecting a baby. As John’s “work” breaking Russian codes hidden within Times magazine, he became increasingly paranoid, so much so that he wanted Alicia to stay with her mother because he thought someone was watching them. While John is giving a lecture at Princeton, a psychiatrist that Alicia called out of concern takes John to a mental hospital, where he is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Alica Nash had the baby shortly after John was involuntarily admitted for treatment. John undergoes several rounds of electroshock treatment before he is released. Sometime later, John stops taking his medication in order to be able to “see the solution” to his work, as well as help Alicia with the baby. After discontinuing his medication, John triggered the return of his hallucinations: Agent Parcher, his college roommate Charles, and Charles’ niece Marcy. With the return of his delusions, John becomes unstable again, and after believing that Charles is watching his newborn son take a bath, he almost drowns his baby in the bath. Luckily before this could happen, Alicia discovers that he has stopped taking his prescription and rush back to the house in time to rescue the baby. Alicia then calls John’s psychiatrist again to try and find an alternative to the current medications he is on, unfortunately, no solution is found and John refuses to stick with his prescription. Alicia nearly takes the baby and leaves John, but John rushes after her after realizing that in all the years he has known her, Marcy has never aged meaning she could not be real. John tries to return to Princeton but is refused because of the liability that his illness represents. In the mid-1980s, John learns how to tell his delusions apart from reality and is accepted back onto Princeton’s faculty. About ten years after this, John Nash is awarded the honor of a Nobel Prize, except first he is evaluated to see whether or not he will embarrass the committee at the award ceremony. During his evaluation, John and the evaluator go to Princeton’s tea room and John colleagues present him their pens, an honor that is given to those that show exceptionally work in their field and character in their daily life. In 1994, John Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences based upon his work in game theory.

This movie cinematography is amazing, they do a wonderful job portraying John’s hallucinations as real. I really loved the realness of John and Alicia’s relationship, it shows how Alicia struggles after John’s diagnosis because his medications make him different than the person she fell in love with. The movie also does a great job of portraying the stigma behind mental illnesses, John almost loses the greatest award for his work possible because the Nobel Prize committee is unsure whether or not he will be able to go through the ceremony without embarrassing the award. Although the movie does a wonderful job, it does have a few mistakes. One of these is the fact that we never know what John believes is happening during some of his more action-based delusions, such as when he and Agent Parcher are being shot at by Russian spies or who threw the desk out the window when he becomes overwhelmed looking for an idea for his doctoral thesis. Another inconsistency is that his friends and colleagues, Saul and Bender, follow him out of worry but never mention anything about it to his wife, even though his actions are very suspicious. The final discrepancy that I noticed was the differences between his reaction to his medication, in the hospital he is able to have dramatic outbursts of anger, but when at home he can’t even comfort his crying son. Overall, the movie does an excellent job of portraying John Nash’s life but does leave us wondering on a few occasions. I would definitely recommend this movie to my friends and anyone else willing to listen to the amazing job that the cast and workers did creating A Beautiful Mind.