The Man Who Knew Infinity
Paramount // PG-13 // $29.98 // August 23, 2016
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted September 10, 2016
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Graphical Version
The Movie:

Not many people may know the name Srinivasa Ramanujan, but his contributions to mathematic formulae and analysis have been influential since the emergence of them in the first quarter of the 20th century, all the more incredible considering he initially developed them entirely on his own. The story of his life and achievements are recounted in the 2015 film The Man Who Knew Infinity.

Matt Brown adapted the 1991 Robert Kanigel book into a screenplay, directed as well, and even served as one of the film's producers. Ramanujan is played by Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire). We see Ramanujan's beginnings in India before moving to England and even being admitted to Cambridge University. He has to fight institutional bias to his work, but with the help of one of his professors (Jeremy Irons, Beautiful Creatures), Ramanujan gradually earns respect and acceptance by the Brits.

The Man Who Knew Infinity gives us an idea of why Srinivasa Ramanujan's work was so impressive, but the main problem with the movie is that it tells many events in such a nondescript manner that the work of the two leads is not able to pull anything from it. Historically, both Ramanujan and Hardy were outwardly nondescript characters who preferred isolation to a degree, and the film's faithfulness to these virtues of the real-life characters impacts it.

It does leave me at a bit of a conflict myself; a lot of us look for films that stay true to those whom they may be trying to portray, with little dramatic embellishment. But for The Man Who Knew Infinity, the loyalty to the nondescript is the biggest thing that detracts from whatever the movie could have become. The performances from Patel and Irons are good; they add depth to those people, and let the viewers into their minds, motivations and emotions. But at times the obstacles in Ramanujan's path are like other ones seen in previous movies, and make it like Good Will Hunting meets School Daze. That's the closest negative thing to say about the movie, but then again it doesn't give you a lot to rave about.

It seems to me that if one was going to tell a story about an influential figure in mathematics that they would do so in such a way that would include a little bit of consideration for the abstract. Love, determination, perseverance, whatever. But The Man Who Knew Infinity handles things in its film like Srinivasa Ramanujan worked on his math theories: precise and with little regard for outside sources. It may have been the most loyal choice to Ramanujan, but it didn't feel like the right one.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

The AVC encode that comes with the 2.40:1 widescreen high-definition presentation is perfectly capable. There are a couple moments of smoothness and the image lacks consistent, abundant detail, and black levels are also a tad inconsistent, but exteriors look vivid with any source noise not being persistent during viewing. It looks good, but doesn't drop your jaw or raise your skirt.

The Sound:

The film comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround track, which does not get a lot of use. Or at least it gets as much use in a film about an Indian man who has discovered math formulae. There are a couple of moments when the film gets to exhibit some dynamic range, most notably, one where a bomb lands in World War I England, but otherwise, the soundtrack remains quiet but ready to take on whatever is tossed its way.

The Extras:

Nothing here.

Final Thoughts:

Considering we ARE talking about mathematics, there is a weird symmetry to The Man Who Knew Infinity. You have two familiar faces, a story with people overcoming the constructed conflict, historical or dramatic, and doing so in a by the numbers manner. One could say that a movie about a mathematics figure was perfectly…"average." Technically, the disc looks and sounds fine, but what gives with no bonus material? Give it a look if you wish.



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