Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Man Who Knew Infinity

(UK, 2015)

Dev Patel, who got a terrific break with his first film, Slumdog Millionaire, plays Srinivasa Ramanujan, the most brilliant man you have probably never heard of. He grew up in India with very little formal education, certainly none in higher mathematics. But he was a natural genius who made almost unbelievable contributions to the field known as identities (something I know nothing about) and other troublesome equations around the turn of the 1900s. Unable to find intellectual equals in Madras, he traveled to Cambridge in 1914 to meet with G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons), who became his mentor. He was just in time for the outbreak of the Great War. He was bedeviled by the deep-seated racism in England, where no one wanted to admit that a wog was as smart as, nay, smarter than they were. He had health problems, and died in 1920. Since then his reputation has only grown, and just about everything he postulated has been proven to be correct. Just imagine how far he might have gotten in life if he had been white.

It’s well done, but suffers from being a pretty predictable biopic, one I could almost have written myself given only the fact that he was smart, and the date of his death. I have the strong feeling that most of the incidents we see were made up.