Movie review: The Man Who Knew Infinity

What would you do if you were a genius but no one believed you? This movie tells just that story, with Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) as Srinivasa Ramanujan a 25-year-old man from India in 1913 who is obsessed with mathematics. Not taken seriously without a formal education, Ramanujan finds a job as shipping clerk and manages to sway his bosses into help him contact a professor in Trinity College, Cambridge.

Professor Hardy (Jeremy Irons) sends for Ramanujan and starts to work with him to prove his theories despite his colleagues’ disapproval, classism and racism. Ramanujan struggles to adjust to English life however, and misses the wife he left behind in India.

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The Man Who Knew Infinity made me think of A Beautiful Mind, however doesn’t quite live up to that expectation. While Jeremy Irons is superb as Professor Hardy, I found Dev Patel’s performance irritating and overly earnest. It also feels like the two have the same argument about proving the theories for at least an hour of the movie, which grows tiresome.

Of course with biopics it can be difficult to liven up, especially one about mathematics, but then if you see A Beautiful Mind this proves it can be done. The repercussions of the two mathematicians in the closing credits is probably the most interesting part of the story, and they don’t even show it!

However, Toby Jones as Professor Littlewood brings some heart to the story, while Stephen Fry is not his usual jolly self as a cranky shipping merchant. It’s grand movie for the whole family but it won’t change your life like (unlike the results of Hardy and Ramanujan’s professional union did for scientists even until this day).

3 stars

Released nationwide Friday April 8th