“Its the same with your dreams and nightmares, you have to feed them to keep them alive.” – John Nash-
The above statement by Nash sums up “A Beautiful Mind”and the film’s view of paranoid schizophrenia. Here we have Russell Crowe playing John Nash, a quiet maths genius in the 1940s. He’s the socially awkward man that speaks his mind literally which becomes his enemy. An example of this is when he’s in the bar and sees an attractive woman so he asks her out in the most inappropriate manner, but to him it is perfect sense.
His symptoms become apparent which include hallucination, thought disturbances and delusions. The reason why the film is so strong is the way it steers away from classic cliche of what an audience may think this mental illness is. The film’s protagonist is in good hands with Crowe portraying him who came off the Gladiator filmset to this one. His paranoid and subtle performance here is striking and allows the viewer to empathise with his wife Alicia (Connelly). Director Ron Howard can gather A-list actors and going on his past filmography, he will choose historical films to direct and this is another.
Ed Harris plays the federal agent that Nash thinks is pursuing him and Paul Bettany is the room mate that is suggestive to Nash’s thoughts. Who does Nash listen to? The federal agent, the room mate, his wife, himself? All of this eats at him and his illness takes more control of his life to the point where psychiatrists try shock treatment on Nash.
Nash feeds his dreams of creating a fantastic math theory however likewise he still chooses to feed his nightmares by way of listening to his illness. Enter Dr. Rosen the psychiatrist with shock treatment therapy, one can not think that this was a practice of medicine.
Paranoid Schizophrenia in this film is treated like the common cold or flu. If you have the flu, get a flu jab from your GP and get on with your life. Yes, you’ll be irritated and unsettled at times but you can adjust to it like Nash did after coming to terms with his disease.
Paranoid Schizophrenia’s symptoms include loss of motivation, mood changes and social withdrawal. Nash had the illness and he was considered brilliant in his career, so his symptoms weren’t a burden he had to carry alone nor did he choose to carry alone.
Russell Crowe as John Nash
Ed Harris as Parcher
Paul Bettany as Charles
Jennifer Connelly as Alicia