The direst, most textbook-like subsection of rote biopics has got to be that of scientists and mathematicians, most of whom—unless they were totally bonkers or otherwise fascinating—tend to have precious little in their biographies to inspire anything more than admiration. Case in point: This serviceable but unremarkable movie about a mathematician who undoubtedly deserves to be honored (especially since racism prevented him from being well-known in his lifetime), but whose career writer-director Matthew Brown has failed to make into stimulating cinema. Set in the 1910s, the story follows Srinivasa Ramanujan (Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel), a resilient, religiously devout Indian math whiz who’s invited by Professor G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) to Cambridge, where he dazzles everyone, but faces opposition because of his ethnicity, social class and lack of formal education. Brown’s dramatization of Ramanujan’s career and personal struggles is overly respectful and ordinary, a sterile examination with no personality. It ends, of course, with photos of the real Ramanujan and onscreen captions telling us what happened next, lest the story of a mathematician be anything other than by-the-numbers.
Director: Matthew Brown
Producer: Edward Pressman, Jim Young, Joe Thomas, Matthew Brown, Sofia Sondervan, Jon Katz, Masaaki Tanaka, Phil Hunt and Compton Ross
Cast: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Devika Bhise, Kevin McNally, Jeremy Northam, Anthony Calf, Arundathi Nag, Richard Johnson, Raghuvir Joshi, Dhritiman Chaterji, Padraic Delaney, Roger Narayan, Stephen Fry and Toby Jones
The Man Who Knew Infinity