REVIEW: The Man Who Knew Infinity

11 05 2016

The Man Who Knew InfinityStop me if you think you’ve heard this one before…

A bright man enters a new space as outsider, establishes his genius as a mathematician but then comes undone by some kind of illness. Did I just describe the plot of “A Beautiful Mind,” “The Imitation Game,” or “The Man Who Knew Infinity?” Not so trick question: it was all three. I guess it makes sense that these mathematician-based films all follow formulas – what other class has you memorize them?

To fill in some of the mathematician Mad Libs of the plot, Dev Patel stars as Srinivasa Ramanujan, a brilliant Indian student who overcomes adversity and lands a spot to study at Cambridge University during World War I. Hey, could you guess this story involved British racists? We get a derisive dismissal of him as “you people” within the first THREE minutes!

Ramanujan bonds with his mentor, Jeremy Irons’ Hardy, over their outsider status in the elite university environment and eventually share profound conversations about the immovable mover. In other words, Hardy is just like the Keira Knightley character in “The Imitation Game!”

At least for that film, I had 13 years to slowly forget the details of its comparable predecessor. “The Man Who Knew Infinity” arrives less than two years after “The Imitation Game” and cannot even hurdle the lowest bar that film set. No matter how hard Patel and Irons try, they can never elevate the material. It’s like they are punching a long equation into the calculator, and we see a “divide by zero” almost immediately. At that point, you know this will not turn out well. C2stars

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