Director: Matt Brown
Cast: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Toby Jones, Malcolm Sinclair, Stephen Fry, Devika Bhise
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 19 May 2016
Synopsis: The Man Who Knew Infinity is the true story of friendship that forever changed mathematics. In 1913, Ramanujan (Dev Patel - Slumdog Millionaire), a self-taught Indian mathematics genius traveled to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he forged a bond with his mentor, the eccentric professor GH Hardy (Jeremy Irons - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), and fought against prejudice to reveal his mathematic genius to the world.
This reviewer would watch anything starring English actor Jeremy Irons (all the bad reviews in the world for Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice wouldn't make you deny the fact that Irons was a gem as Alfred Pennyworth). Just hearing the 67 year old actor’s voice will make you weak in the knees - no one else can be personify an evil smirking lion like Irons did when he voiced Scar in 1994’s The Lion King.
The theatre veteran shows he is good in any role by playing English mathematician G H Hardy, known for his achievements in number theory and mathematical analysis. He channels gravitas into the real life character. However, the protagonist of this 108 minute film is someone else: an Indian mathematician who had almost no formal training in pure mathematics. Srinivasa Ramanujan is the titular man who knew infinity, and this story is about how Ramanujan forged a bond with Hardy, and the friendship between this mentor and mentee would result in the uncovering of one of the world’s most ingenious mathematician.
The first thing that comes to mind is Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind, a biopic inspired by the lift of the brilliant mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. While the 2001 movie focused on the main character’s internal struggle, Matthew Brown’s directorial debut has less of the drama, but the same amount of moments to have viewers walking out of the theatre feeling inspired.
Besides Irons, kudos also goes to Dev Patel. The 26 year old British actor has come a long way since 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, braving the harsh reviews from 2010’s The Last Airbender and 2015’s Chappie, and managing to charm in 2012’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its 2015 sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Here, he takes on the role of Ramanujan. We see the young man start out humbly in Madras, before braving all odds to travel to Trinity College in Cambridge to pursue his dreams.
The film is predictable, but in a good way. You know how the story will develop, and you believe that you’ve seen something like this somewhere before. Yup, there was a time when films need not be too smart for their own good, and worked because they were sentimentally pleasing. The movie is sturdy and respectable, and never tries to veer off balance.
It then helps that viewers pay attention to the on screen chemistry between Petel and Irons, and are engaged in the heartening tale of how two geniuses come together to form a slow, blossoming friendship. The actors are supported by an equally capable ensemble which includes Toby Jones (Infamous, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Stephen Fry (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) and Jeremy Northam (Gosford Park, Amistad).
This is one of those films so feel good, you would momentarily forget all the cynicism in the world and be inspired to do something about that dream you once had.
(You’ll walk out of the theatre feeling inspired, thanks to the on wonderful on screen chemistry between leading men Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons)
Review by John Li