Based on a book of the same name by Robert Kanigel, <The Man Who Knew Infinity> is about how great knowledge can come from the humblest of beginnings. Written and directed by Matthew Brown, this film is a true story of friendship that forever changed mathematics. In 1913, Ramanujan (Dev Patel), a self-taught Indian mathematics genius traveled from Madras to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he forged a bond with his mentor, the eccentric professor GH Hardy (Jeremy Irons), and fought against prejudice to reveal his mathematic genius to the world.
It is a charming film about an individual who grew up poor and gets past all adversities he has to face in his life. It is not a fast paced film, as humble beginnings need a flame to light the way, so you have to bear with the unfolding journey Ramanujan takes from Madras, India, to Cambridge and know that there is so much detail of displacement and mathematical theorems to soak up and enjoy. Dev Patel gives an affecting performance in the title role and while mathematics figures large in the topic of the film (don’t be put off this as it is digestible to the uninitiated), it is also about how he had to contend with racial prejudice and English social stratification (typical the English snobbery). Luck, however, was on his side in the character of Hardy where Jeremy Irons gives an incredibly affecting performance in the role of Professor Hardy.
There are some wonderfully drawn characters in the supporting cast, including Devika Bhise, Stephen Fry, Toby Jones, Jeremy Northam and Kevin McNally among others. The film is also set against the backdrop of the WW1 and shows how this impacted on the university fraternity at the time. Not everything came up smelling of roses, as there were some dark times and moments of sheer brilliance and people wanting to help, but as we know, the path to greatness of full of pitfalls and sometimes tragedy and all this puts a very human and real touch on this wonderful story. When credits rolls, Ramanujan’s and Hardy’s greatness is shown to have continued to influence great theories decades beyond, which adds even more superlatives to the intriguing mathematical minds of these two plus the other colleagues that inspired Ramanujan to continue his quest to be heard. This is an inspiring story set in beautiful locations that are so engaging.
Open Citywide: 23rd June 2016