The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)

Rated PG-13
Biography / Drama
Try pairing with:  Baingan Bharta

Jen’s Review:  A

So I thought The Man Who Knew Infinity looked good so I text the trailer to Jeremy. He immediately messaged me back and said “we are watching this tonight!”  After dinner I grabbed my yarn and crochet hook and we sat on the sofa and started the movie.

Based on a true story, Dev Patel portrayed Srinivasa Ramanujan whole-heartedly. I really believed I had a window into this mans life. Ramanujan was a genius mathematician struggling to make it during a rough in the world. Toby Jones played the British mathematician Littlewood who received some of Ramanujan work. After reviewing them Littlewood was so amazed he shared them with G.H. Hardy played by Jeremy Jones.

Littlewood and Hardy invite Ramanujan to complete his works at Trinity College in Cambridge. He was a newlywed and had to leave his family behind.  Being in England during the World War I wasn’t easy for him. Everyday was a struggle for him to prove himself. He has a major breakthrough as he became gravely ill.

The acting in this film was amazing that’s why I gave it an A.  The Man Who Knew Infinity is not a movie for everyone but if you’re looking for a good intellectual film based on actual events, this is the one!

Jeremy’s Review:  B

When Jen told me that there was a movie she wanted me to record so we could watch it, I was not expecting this.  She had me watch the trailer and I wondered why I had not noticed this film before, as I normally find and obsess over anything having to do with space, science, and mathematics.  So after several days of waiting, it finally recorded, and then was another week or two until we watched it, but I am extremely glad that she had found this gem.  Directed by Matt Brown, this film is the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan, played by Dev Patel, who was an innovator in mathematics, specifically number theory and infinite series.  What made it so out of the ordinary was that this was an Indian man who lived during the period of British imperialism in India, and that he also had absolutely no formal training in pure mathematics whatsoever.  He was capable of seeing patterns in numbers and advanced theorems that no one else could see, but had no idea of how he was able to do these things, claiming they were delivered to him when he needed them most through his faith, most frequently during prayer.

We find Ramanujan united with G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) a Fellow at Cambridge and is credited with reforming British mathematics.  Given a golden opportunity to study with Hardy after reading Ramanujan’s papers, Ramanujan sails to England to begin his stay at Cambridge to work with Hardy and possibly have some of his ideas and theories published.  The film thrives on the tumultuous relationship between Ramanujan and Hardy, and also highlights much of the xenophobic and racist sentiment that the British had for non-whites at the time of the First World War.  This is a wonderful look at a part of history that most know nothing about, and also somehow makes mathematics extremely riveting, while waiting for the next big discovery or an answer to an “unsolvable” question keeps you on the edge of your seat.  However, as in real life, not everyone’s story is completely exciting throughout, and while telling Ramanujan’s story, the film does hit a stride but missteps with some unnecessary and strange scenes that feel out of place.

The acting in this film is superb and the relationship between Hardy and Ramanujan becomes palpable and enjoyable.  By the end, you can feel their closeness and go through the range of emotions with them from pure joy to complete loss.  It is a story that you want to hear, not one that you feel yourself forced to sit through just to see what happens.  This is a fantastic recreation of a man, mostly unknown to the normal world, save those invested in mathematical science, and one you will find yourself absorbed into.  Although the ending is appropriate, it does disappoint a bit, but I won’t ruin it and will just say that it’s a true story, and true to life, not everything goes the way you want it to.  This film definitely scores a B and would have gotten a B+ if not for the somewhat jaunty pacing.

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