Russell Crowe (Gladiator) stars as Nash, and after watching his Oscar nominated, astounding performance here, I have to say that all the safe bets on Oscar night will be for this man to walk away with everything, and the only problem Crowe will ever encounter in any future dramatic endeavours he chooses to undertake is finding roles to keep up with him. Crowe gives an honesty to this character, letting the negative views like Nash's level of arrogance shine through, but he also infuses Nash with a great deal of charm. One of my favourite scenes in this film is after his colleagues know Nash's diagnosis of having schizophrenia; an uneasy friend comes to see him. His friend attempts to sit down in the empty chair opposite Nash, and, sensing his unease, Nash says, "Have you met my friend Harvey?" His friend jumps back, and Nash replies with "Relax. What's the point of being crazy if you can't have a little fun?"
I am constantly disappointed by films that deal with mental illness by having the lead actor flail his limbs and stutter, for the simple lack of an original method of handling that sort of storyline. The only actor that has even come close to Crowe's performance in the hospital scenes is Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, and even he didn't have the grace and style that Crowe gives to Nash.
After watching Jennifer (Requiem For A Dream) Connelly's turn in this film I have become convinced that this actress's beauty is eclipsed only by her talent as, in her Oscar nominated turn as Alicia Nash, Connelly gives the audience a glimpse of a woman with amazing strength. Even after her brilliant husband's diagnosis, even after taking on the care of their child, and him, she stands right beside him, unwavering. The most remarkable thing about Connelly's performance however, is the moments of genuine humanity that she gives to Alicia. It would have been quite easy for this character to turn into the mindless little woman. Not so here. When trying to break through to her husband to show him that although he may be haunted by delusions, the love she has for him is real, she shows her colossal heart. When, in a moment of pure frustration, she smashes a water glass, and lets out a primal scream, you see the character's flaws. Connelly has created a portrait that she can be eternally proud of.