The Man Who Knew Infinity

First Hit:  An interesting film about a fascinating individual whom I knew nothing about.

I knew nothing about and had never heard about Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) a young Indian man who, without any formal mathematical education, spewed out amazing mathematical theorems.

For him they were intuitive. natural and were derived directly from God. Being Hindu, vegetarian, and supremely focused on the formulas that came to him through long sessions that were combined with praying, he was an anomaly in the world of mathematics.

Being buried in the poorest sections of Madras, unable to get a job so that he could have a home with this wife Janaki (Devika Bhise), and no one believing what he was creating as valid, he thought his work would die with him. On this third letter to scholar mathematicians in England, G. H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons), a Fellow at Trinity College in Cambridge, saw potential greatness and sponsored Ramanujan to visit him in England.

Upon his arrival Hardy and Fellow mathematician Littlewood (Toby Jones) began to work with Ramanujan to learn how to prove and publish his theorems. As this was during the time of WWI, Cambridge was bombed and Ramanujan became ill with tuberculosis.

The film takes the audience through, his battle to prove his work, his loneliness of missing his wife, and finding a way to be seen as an equal to his mathematical peers.

Patel is excellent as Ramanujan. I believed his character and got an idea of the struggle Ramanujan must have had. Additionally, he looks a lot like the real person. Irons was strong as the socially awkward, atheist mathematician who believed in Ramanujan but also wanted this new mathematician to have the same scientific rigor that all mathematicians are held to. Bhise had a small role but her love, angst and loyalty to her husband was sincerely palpable. Jones was great as Hardy’s friend and mathematician side-kick. Matt Brown both wrote and directed this film and it was obvious that he cared about sharing this story.

Overall:  It was more of a learning lesson to me about this amazing mathematician whose work is still being used and explored.