I hate math. However, there are plenty of math-centric movies that I love (A Beautiful Mind, The Imitation Game, Good Will Hunting – just to name a few), so it’s possible that I may end up being into The Man Who Knew Infinity.
The Man Who Knew Infinity is the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a pioneer in mathematical theories, who in 1914 made the trip all the way from East India to Cambridge University to work with a professor by the name of G.H. Hardy. Does that sound interesting to you? If so, then I advise that you skip the movie and simply read the man’s Wikipedia entry.
Every now and again in school when I could actually do a math problem in my head, it would annoy me to receive a note telling me to show my work. So, I think it’s hilariously ironic that my biggest issue with The Man Who Knew Infinity is that I don’t know a zero bit more about Ramanujan’s work than I did before stepping into the theater. Nothing is ever shown or explained! Characters just talk on and on about groundbreaking formulas, and the importance of them all is never once discussed. I guess I’m just supposed to believe/know that Ramanujan was brilliant? Regardless of that, the film is also hampered by the fact that it’s a real bore. For the most part, it’s comprised of scenes where Ramanujan (played over-enthusiastically by a lazily cast Dev Patel) runs into a room, exclaims that he’s solved something impossible, then Professor Hardy (played with the right amount of gravitas by Jeremy Irons) tells him he needs to provide proofs, then Ramanujan pouts, and the process starts over. Though, to director Matt Brown’s credit, he does clumsily intersperse a few moments where Ramanujan deals with racism and whatnot. Thanks, Matt! Otherwise your whole film would have just been about indescribable equations.
One Last Thought:
I’m starting to get rather tired of Dev Patel. He always plays the same wide-eyed character with good intentions, and it’s time for him to do something else. Maybe he could try being a wide-eyed character with bad intentions? Just spit-balling here.