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The Man Who Knew Infinity

A period bio-pic about the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan

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This British biographical drama from Matthew Brown fills in a long-ago chapter in the history of advanced mathematics. In the years immediately before World War I, a young self-educated math whiz from Madras, India, is grudgingly invited to Cambridge University on the strength of theories he submitted. Once there, Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) is mentored by professor G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons), but the path to academic enlightenment is rocky. There is the war, of course, and Ramanujan remains a fish out of water culturally. Nonetheless, he develops brilliant new theories on heretofore mysterious “partions,” and this earnest film seeks to ensconce his achievements in their rightful place. The work, despite a good cast and handsome production values, retains the feel of a quality TV movie, with deeper issues around race, class and the often crippling tension between academic brilliance and social skills dutifully checked off, but not explored in depth.

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