Film review: The Man Who Knew Infinity (12A)

Film review: The Man Who Knew Infinity. Pictured: Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons.
Film review: The Man Who Knew Infinity. Pictured: Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons.
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Mathematics is the only universal language which transcends race, religion, culture and class. Breathtaking in its simplicity and application, the study of number, quantity and space impacts every facet of our lives, from GPS and computer systems to our ability to predict the weather.

Adapted from Robert Kanigel’s 1991 biography, The Man Who Knew Infinity is a handsome dramatisation of the life of a self-taught Indian mathematician, who came to England just before the First World War to share his passion for numbers. It’s a glowing tribute, written and directed by Matthew Brown, which extols its remarkable subject, Srinivasa Ramanujan, as a beautiful mind, who conjured solutions out of the ether. Sadly, Brown’s film fails to make clear exactly what these secrets were and how the lead character was instrumental in ploughing new cerebral furrows.

Ramanujan (Dev Patel) is a 25-year-old shipping clerk in 1914 Madras, who dreams about formulae, which he scribbles in chalk on temple floors. With the blessing of his employer, Sir Francis Spring (Stephen Fry), Ramanujan sends some of his mathematical musings to revered academic GH Hardy (Jeremy Irons), who is a fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge alongside Bertrand Russell (Jeremy Northam). On general release. Damon Smith