Rated: PG-13 for some thematic elements and smoking. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 29, 2016 Released by: IFC Films
This limited biopic is sincere but too much like a small-screen portrait which doesn't quite resonate with the gravity and piquancy that a real-life event like this should.
Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons star in The Man Who Knew Infinity, perhaps a cousin to The Theory of Everything or Good Will Hunting, particularly when the latter has a reference to Patel's self-taught India mathematics genius Srinivasa Ramanujan.
Patel is less actorly here than in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotelwith Ramanujan having a preening quality about him soften down to a degree like Irons's cantankerous Trinity College at Cambridge Prof. G.H. Hardy.
Ramanujan has been working in a business office for an accounting executive (Stephen Fry) just prior to World War I when Hardy invites him over to his praiseworthy institution after receiving equations the uncanny youthful upstart has remitted to him.
The explanation of this language of the sciences comes by way of conversation among Hardy and a faculty member (Toby Jones), as well as Jeremy Northam's Bertrand Russell. A Russell quote that opens the film has a transcendental glow to this side of academia. The relationship between Ramanujan and Hardy drive the film through the research from groundbreaking work; their mutual love of what the subject entails and even their differences when it comes to the spiritual. Patel and a wonderfully colorful Irons have a decent sensitively rendered give-and-take in arguably the best moments Infinity has to offer. At least compared to what is presented from the personal side of Srinivasa in his homeland.
Matt Brown helms the material adapted from a couple of sources with emphasis on dealing with the racial intolerance Srinvasa endured as physical hardship ensued to tragically shorten his life. Yet, too often so in an undemonstrative way which really doesn't unveil a true pioneer and protégé reaching his mentor's status in what would be instrumental in making strides to understand and pave the way into the inner workings of black holes. But, the internalization of Ramanujan has a black hole about it, not just in grasping the gist and significance of his findings.
What maybe could have expressed a little ingenuity along the lines of A Beautiful Mind turns out to a little too rote and by-the-numbers to give due justice to a man with a special erudition and who could hold his own with Alan Turing or Stephen Hawking.
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