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The Man Who Knew Infinity

Intuition vs proof: THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY fictionalizes the story of two opposed characters: Indian mathematician and autodidact Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) and Cambridge mathematics professor G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons).

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THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY is perhaps not the century’s best biopic, with its deliberate storytelling, but it does show an interesting Indian-British story which should have been filmed a long time ago. Dev Patel (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL) is in the lead role as Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Ramanujan had a modest beginning in the 1890s as the son of an orthodox Brahmin. He was considered a math wunderkind from an early age and expanded his knowledge in an autodidactic way and was only interesting in math, neglecting other subjects which kept him from going to university. We meet him as a young adult who is completely overqualified for his job as a clerk as he shoves his book filled with formulas under people’s noses. One day his work reaches mathematics professor G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) who eventually brings Ramanujan to Cambridge – a foreign, racist world about to go to war. The bitter cold, meals unfit for a vegetarian, and the distrust of instructors and colleagues break Ramanujan’s spirit. He struggles most with Hardy’s constant insistence on classifications and proof. He prefers to pull new numerical series and theorems right out of his sleeve. When asked how he arrives at his – often correct – formulas he says god has shared it with him. Lanky Patel doesn’t look anything like the rounder Ramanujan but he plays the headstrong, genius autodidact very well. It’s a bit reminiscent of the steadfastness Patel showed as Sonny in BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL.

Toni Ohms

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Original title: The Man Who Knew Infinity
Großbritannien 2015, 108 min
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Matt Brown
Author: Matt Brown, Robert Kanigel
DOP: Larry Smith
Montage: JC Bond
Distributor: Wild Bunch Germany
Cast: Jeremy Irons, Dev Patel, Toby Jones
FSK: 6
Release: 12.05.2016

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