The Man Who Knew Infinity is a film where the numbers don’t quite add up. This is a biopic about a genius mathematician set in picturesque Cambridge in 1914 and boasts a stellar cast (including Stephen Fry). But the sum total isn’t greater than the individual parts for this drama. The film is ultimately a solid one but you can’t help but feel like its subject deserved a whole lot more, especially in respect to creativity and uniqueness.
Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) stars in his most serious role to date as Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar, a poor Hindu man who has a brilliant gift with respect to pure mathematics. He is newly married but he has trouble caring for his beautiful wife (Devika Bhise in a very thin role) and his controlling mother (Arundathi Nag). Ramanujan is convinced by a friend (Dhritiman Chatterjee) to send his work to some academics in Cambridge and what follows is an inspirational, fish-out-of-water tale.
The man responsible for bringing Ramanujan to Cambridge is G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons). The pair become good friends, despite their differences. Hardy lives up to his name and is a logical atheist while Ramanujan’s work is based on a lot of intuition and divine inspiration, as he is a devout Hindu. Over five years Ramanujan is subjected to racism and discrimination while staying at Cambridge but he also proves to be an excellent collaborator with Hardy.
Ramanujan is doggedly determined to complete his formulae and theories. The film doesn’t always give full credit to this man as often the mathematical feats are merely implied. And it is only at the end of the feature that the viewers learn how Ramanujan’s work continues to make waves because it is now being used by people to study and learn about black holes.
The Man Who Knew Infinity is a moving and feel-good story but it is also a tad too slow and nuanced for its own good. The film is not immune to some historical inaccuracies and hagiography (Ramanujan’s wife was only a child when they were married and this is not depicted in the film). In all, this is an extraordinary story that is told in a rather ordinary way and it could have been so much more thanks to its great performances and the intriguing man who is the subject.
***Please note: a free pass to this film was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: http://entertainment.beautyandlace.net/user-reviews-the-man-who-knew-infinity#comment-50532