The Man Who Knew Infinity
(UK) Biopic. Directed by Matthew Brown. Starring Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Toby Jones, Stephen Fry. Category IIA. 108 minutes. Opens Jun 23. Biopics of scientists and mathematicians have been popular film fodder in recent years, what with Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar-winning performance in “The Theory of Everything” as Stephen Hawking and Benedict Cumberbatch’s role as closeted code breaker Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game.”
But such biopics often get formulaic: after all, the aim is always to demystify a largely misunderstood legend—his genius as well as his complex theories, which always need to be simplified for the public to understand. While this biographical drama of Madras-born math genius Srinivasa Ramanujan (played by Dev Patel) doesn’t exactly break the mold, it’s heartening to see the character shine for himself. He’s not “saved” by his mentor in any way, nor is his life’s work and philosophy overlooked for a more audienceconsumable love story, as usually tends to happen.
Introducing the film is Jeremy Irons as G.H. Hardy, the atheist academic who became Ramanujan’s close academic advisor and friend throughout his time at Trinity College, Cambridge. Hardy reminisces about how Ramanujan changed his faith in mathematics and in people. Ramanujan, who grew up poor in Madras, was blessed with the gift of numbers and was able to craft complex mathematical theories without formal training—leading to his journey to Cambridge.
Much of the film is Ramanujan fighting against prejudices to reach greatness; starting from the jokey, snobbish foreman (Stephen Fry, basically as himself)