From A Beautiful Mind (2001) to The Theory of Everything (2014), it seems that people are generally more interested in seeing movies about mathematicians than actually cracking their maths. After Nash and Hawking, Indian numbers man Srinivasa Ramanujan (Patel) also gets the biopic treatment in a well-groomed if routinised period drama.
Centered around the relationship between the self-taught, deeply spiritual Ramanujan, who travels to England in the early 20th century to present his divinely inspired findings, and the rationalist, very British G.H. Hardy (Irons), who demands scientific proof of every theorem conjured up by his unorthodox mentee, the movie traces their cultural and ideological clashes to an inevitably celebratory conclusion. While the safe, insistently traditional storytelling allows you to follow comfortably how two of our brightest thinkers came together on their quest for truth, it also feels so familiar at all points that you could almost tell tuberculosis and a World War are up next. There’s always been an extraordinary, otherworldly beauty to those byzantine, comprehension-defying mathematical equations. By contrast, Brown went for something so available stylistically and so middle of the road narratively that the result can’t be anything but pleasantly ordinary.
The Man Who Knew Infinity | Directed by Matt Brown (UK 2015) with Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons. Opens in NYC April 29