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film review

Srinivasa Ramanujan's story seems made for the movies: With virtually no formal training, the native of Madras, India, travelled to Cambridge in 1913 and distinguished himself as a mathematics genius. His real-life story is complex and extraordinary. Yet the film based on his life, The Man Who Knew Infinity, is predictable and ordinary. It chronicles the rise of Ramanujan (Dev Patel) from the streets of colonial India to the hallowed halls of Trinity College, where notebooks full of impressive-looking calculations wow the forward-thinking professors but don't always earn Ramanujan a pass from his outsider status. Still, he thrives academically under the tutelage of G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons, who breathes life into this cliché-heavy effort). The tired old tropes – the sad bride back home, the jealous mother, the noble, long-suffering protagonist – and the failure to explore Ramanujan's genius and character in any depth add up to a conventional, formulaic disappointment. Further, Ramanujan's abilities and accomplishments remain vague. When one of the most enlightening moments of a film comes during the postscript (black holes!), you know there's a problem – one that has nothing to do with math.

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