Film Review by Clayton Barnett
Growing up poor in Madras, India, Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar earns admittance to Cambridge University during WWI, where he becomes a pioneer in mathematical theories with the guidance of his professor, G.H. Hardy.
If you felt The Theory of Everything didn’t have enough maths, or enough of the supreme Jeremy Irons, then The Man Who Knew Infinity equals a good time for you.
I love a good biopic and Srinivasa Ramanujan’s story is compelling stuff. It’s amazing it’s taken this long to be put to screen, but thanks to writer and director Matt Brown who’s been working on this for the last ten years and it’s worth the wait.
Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel puts a lot of heart into Ramanujan, making this math wunderkind relatable and inspiring. It’s probably one of the few true and authentic stories of an Indian we’ve seen on screen for awhile. His offsider Jeremy Irons is in great form too, lending his class to the role of Ramanujan’s mentor. There’s also great support work from the always reliable Stephen Fry and a touching turn from Toby Jones (Dad’s Army).
Irons and Patel’s chemistry together lifts the movie as it is by the numbers at stages. It could have done with the visual flourishes of The Theory of Everything to help make the math a bit more accessible. But luckily they’ve got cinematographer Larry Smith - who shot the stunning Calvary - on board to make Cambridge and India look fantastic.
While it can be by the numbers at stages, two great central performances from Patel and Irons adds up to an engaging story of an unknown genius.
Releases: 5th May 2016
Duration: 108 minutes
Starring: Jeremy Irons, Toby Jones, Dev Patel, Stephen Fry, Jeremy Northam, Kevin McNally
Director: Matt Brown (Ropewalk)
In the film Good Will Hunting when Stellan Skarsgård is trying to convince Robin Williams to take on Matt Damon he compares him to Srinivasa Ramanujan as an example of his extraordinary ability.
David Leavitt ("The Lost Language of Cranes") wrote a semi-fictional version of this story in his novel, "The Indian Clerk".