THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY – Review by Susan Granger

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

As the brilliant Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, engaging actor Dev Patel snags his first meaty role since “Slumdog Millionaire” and the “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” comedies. A self-educated clerk from a poor Brahmin family, Ramanujan overcame incredible odds to inform the later work of Stephen Hawking (“The Theory of Everything”) and Alan Turing (“The Imitation Game”). Although writer/director Matt Brown strikes a more conventional key than those previous biopics, he nevertheless weaves a compelling tale of passion and perseverance. Read on…

Ramanujan’s story begins in 1913 in Madras, where his shipping-house employer suggests he send his complex mathematical theorems to Professor G. M. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) in Cambridge. Encouraged by colleague John Littlewood (Toby Jones), Hardy dispatches an invitation to England.

Defying tradition, timid yet intense Ramanujan leaves his overly-possessive mother and devoted young wife, traveling 6,000 miles to Trinity College, where he faces not only academic derision but also racial discrimination as clubby faculty members refer to him disdainfully as “Gunga Din.”

A vegetarian, Ramanujan can’t eat the food served in the dorms, so he cooks soups in the fireplace in his quarters, a task that grows increasingly challenging with wartime rationing. Not surprisingly, his health begins to deteriorate.

Intellectually bonding through discussions of primes and partitions, Ramanujan and Hardy have vastly different approaches to their discipline. A devout Hindu, Ramanujan believes his intuitive knowledge is a gift from God, while pragmatic, atheistic Hardy demands rigorous “proofs” to substantiate the spontaneously scribbled calculations.

Confident in his remarkable ability, Dev Patel conveys Ramanujan’s courteous, yet purposeful determination, in contrast with Jeremy Irons’ socially inept, coldly imperious Hardy. Together, they rise above the bigotry of the Cambridge establishment, launching Ramanujan as the first Indian Fellow at Trinity and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

FYI: 1729 has become the Hardy-Ramanujan number, the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Man Who Knew Infinity” is a spiritual 7, engaging the heart as well as the mind.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×
Avatar

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.