The Man Who Knew Infinity

In the prologue to Matt Brown’s interesting but undernourished film, The Man Who Knew Infinity, Irons’ character, Cambridge professor H.D. Hardy, suggests that he and the “man” of the title shared a deep friendship that the film does not relay. In fact, the movie does much to show Hardy and Indian mathematician Ramanujan (Patel) had a surface-y association for much of the time of their collaboration. Hardy brought Ramanujan to England in the 1910s after receiving a letter fro…m the young Hindi that contained imaginative mathematical formulas and a request for help publishing his work. Hardy spent many hours urging him to discipline his thinking and test his ideas by using established, accepted proofs. Ramanujan resisted at first but eventually conceded, all while suffering hateful treatment from teachers and classmates. That Hardy knew nothing of this or much else about the man speaks not only to his detachment from his protege but, as is slowly revealed, the scholar’s detachment from life outside his own study. Hardy eventually becomes Ramanujan’s champion and delivers a stirring case for his admission as a fellow to the Royal Society. The math is dense and its importance not clearly conveyed. Because of this, the story needed more about life away from the books and chalk. The few scenes of Ramanujan’s alienation only suggest the pain he must have endured to be heard.

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