Wednesday, 13 April 2016

REVIEW - THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY (MATT BROWN)


The middlebrow prestige pic is now such a staple of the British film industry's output that this subgenre has its own tiers of sub-categories within itself; The Man Who Knew Infinity is firmly in a lowly tier, modest means servicing modest artistic ambition, ever-stratospheric awards-related ambition. Strange, then, that it ought to buck the trends it's otherwise so indebted to: although held back by the inevitable constraints of awards-baiting, and an unimaginative adaptation, this film is made with palpable artistry, and tells an unusually engrossing story. Genuine, if rather futile, attempts have been made at expanding the narrative beyond its male-centric natural outlook, and the polish one expects from period pieces such as this one is matched, indeed improved upon, by smart tech creds. Cinematographer Larry Smith captures Luciana Arrighi's evocative production design with subtly striking compositions, making effective use of light and colour. And Matt Brown displays sensitivity in his direction, often focusing on his characters' feet and the ground beneath them - a lovely touch that ironically lifts the film up. Yet his screenplay is stiflingly formulaic, save for a lack of necessary detail in some important areas - it's shallow, if not outright neglectful, in its depictions of protagonist Srinivasa Ramanujan's time in his native India, and the crucial particulars of his mathematical innovations are ruefully glossed over. Too frequently does The Man Who Knew Infinity turn through the same ponderous plot points, ultimately making very little ground in doing so, and throwing the pace of the film off. Yet there's much to indulge in here, in a touching and comforting film that suggests a promising future for its director, if not as a writer.