December 24, 2001 12:00 PM

Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly

Featured attraction

John Nash Jr.’s story seems a natural for a movie, and yet it’s a tricky one. How exactly do you show a brilliant mathematician—one who was awarded a Nobel Prize for his economic theories in 1994 and who still works at Princeton today—going mad and spending decades of his life a delusional prisoner of schizophrenia? A Beautiful Mind does it deftly, thanks to a brilliant theatrical ploy (to say more would give away too much) that draws viewers into Nash’s madness. And kudos to Crowe, who can go over the edge without going over the top.

In chronicling Nash’s tale, Mind also tells that of his loyal wife, Alicia (Connelly), who clings to the belief that the man she loves is still in there. Crowe is superb (though his West Virginia accent flirts with a Sean Connery parody), and Connelly adds more than mere decoration. Ably directed by Ron Howard and based on author Sylvia Nasar’s 1998 biography of Nash, Mind gets sentimental at the end, but why the heck not? (PG-13)

Bottom Line: Beautifully done

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