The Man Who Knew Infinity

India is crazy with population: 1.2 billion people or so. Why, then, does Hollywood think a man born in London is the only one for hire? Nothing against Dev Patel, but he can’t be the only brown person around. On the other hand, I hate to take work away from him because of course he’s only allowed to play Indian dudes, despite being British. Rant aside, I only half-enjoyed this movie, despite being originally pleased to find it on Netflix.

Dev plays Srinivasa Ramanujan, a poor, uneducated man in India who happens to be a math the_man_who_knew_infinity_2015_12516184prodigy. Of course, India rejects him because he’s from the wrong caste, and he has no degree and he looks like he sleeps in the street (to be fair, he does). So he writes a ballsy  note to professor G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Hardy’s just intrigued enough to send for him. It’s 1912 though, so Cambridge is not super friendly to brown-skinned people. And Cambridge is really unfriendly to self-taught brown people who think they’re better than them. So everyone hates on him and even Hardy stifles him. Ramanujan is just vomiting brilliance everywhere and no one wants to accept it.

Patel and Irons are great. You can’t knock the acting. But math is boring and this biopic is conventional as hell. Ramanujan was a real man who overcame real adversity and left behind a legacy only now begun to be understood. I don’t think the film needed to add a further layer of intrigue that involved him not being allowed to walk on the grass. I felt like he wasn’t served well by this documentary – not his life, not his work, not his memory. And that’s really too bad.



8 thoughts on “The Man Who Knew Infinity

  1. That Other Critic

    Most Indian actors (as in, those actually from India) are a little bit busy working in the largest film industry in the world. Bollywood is huge, there’s no reason for Indian actors to come do American movies.
    That aside, I love Dev Patel, but I probably won’t see this one. Conventional biopics really aren’t all that interesting to me.


  2. Liz A.

    Math is NOT BORING!!!

    Agreed with the actors “of color”. I’m around kids of Indian descent, Asian descent, African descent, and Latino descent all the time. And I’m in L.A. county. I mean, seriously, Hollywood doesn’t have to look far to find the right “color” for any of these parts.


  3. Damien Riley

    I heard they invented much of the story because it was just too boring to focus solely on the math content. For example, I read an article that said the letters were never hidden. At any rate, I agree math is boring and the side story stuff bored me too. I had no real reaction from this film, it was like a free movie, dull at the library on a Sunday afternoon.


  4. J.

    Maybe they could have jazzed it up a bit by throwing in a subplot that involved him being some sort of hitman or suchlike. Travelling to Cambridge to carry out a hit on a well known mathematician. Or something. Being taught by a mystical blind chap… they really missed a trick there.




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