The Man Who Knew Infinity Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Devika Bhise. Directed by Matthew Brown. Rated PG-13.
Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan developed formulas and theories that are still guiding the course of mathematical study, but all of his breakthroughs were in pure math, not exactly the kind of thing that’s easy to depict in a movie for a non-academic audience. So Matthew Brown’s Ramanujan biopic The Man Who Knew Infinity does little to explain the details of its subject’s discoveries, instead focusing on the relationship between Ramanujan (Dev Patel) and British mathematician G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons), and the difficulties that Ramanujan faced as an Indian studying and publishing in England in the 1910s. The middle-of-the-road approach is respectable, restrained and mostly dull, with plenty of biopic clichés (including the dreaded Cough of Death) and cursory nods toward political and social commentary. Patel and Irons are solid, but the movie could have been about a poet or a runner or a botanist and it would have probably ended up with the same sedate, forgettable outcome.