The Man Who Knew Infinity, film review: Acutely-observed and very moving

(12A)​ Matt Brown, 109 mins, starring: Jeremy irons, Dev Patel, Stephen Fry, Toby Jones

Geoffrey Macnab
Wednesday 06 April 2016 18:39
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Dev Patel and Stephen Fry in The Man Who Knew Infinity
Dev Patel and Stephen Fry in The Man Who Knew Infinity

The Man Who Knew Infinity tells the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel), the brilliant Indian mathematician from a very humble background who comes to Cambridge to study under the patronage of Cambridge don G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons.)

The film (set at the start of the First World War) opens with a voice-over from Irons which can’t help but rekindle memories of Granada’s TV version of Brideshead Revisited. The Oxbridge world shown here, though, is very different from the Arcadia that irons’ Charles Ryder encountered in Brideshead. Hardy’s colleagues are patronising and even downright racist toward Ramanujan.

This may appear the typical buttoned up British costume drama but, in its own understated way, it is both acutely observed and very moving. Writer-director Matthew Brown deals subtly with Hardy’s romantic obsession with Ramanujan and also conveys his sense of wonder at the sheer beauty and audacity of Ramanujan’s mathematical formulations.

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