The Man Who Knew Infinity

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Man Who Knew Infinity Movie Poster Image
Compelling story, but WWI-era math biopic needs more zest.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

When you have exceptional abilities, it's important to make use of them, even if that means leaving your friends and family behind as you seek success.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ramanujan is brilliant mathematician who must learn to collaborate with a fellow scholar, even though they have very different approaches to the discipline. Together, they make important advances. 

Violence

While living in England, the main character experiences discrimination and threats because of his Indian background. In one scene, he's attacked and beaten by a group of soldiers solely because of his race. Some war imagery.

Sex
Language

Infrequent use of words including "bloody," "damn," and "hell." Racist comments.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters smoke cigarettes, and meals are sometimes accompanied by wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Man Who Knew Infinity focuses on the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel), a real-life mathematical genius from India who studied at Cambridge University before and during World War I. The film showcases Ramanujan's devotion to his studies, especially in the face of significant racism (he's attacked and beaten in once scene). It's appropriate for teens and even older tweens, who may be impressed with Ramanujan's work ethic. There's no sex and only a little language ("hell," "damn," etc., and some racist comments), though a few scenes do show people drinking and smoking cigarettes, and there's some non-graphic war imagery.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 and 11 year old Written byrks67 May 8, 2016

Beautiful, moving biopic

We saw The Man Who Knew Infinity at our local International Film Festival with two almost-12 yr old girls and two 10-1/2 yr old boys. It was the first drama... Continue reading
Adult Written byMcChen May 21, 2016

Worthwhile

We enjoyed this film as a family, felt that it was better than some mainstream reviews made it out to be. In addition to bits shown in trailers related to one... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) is a mathematical genius with a profound understanding of complex ideas. He recognizes that it will be almost impossible to share his discoveries with the scientific world in 1914 India, so eventually he finds his way to Cambridge. There, British professor G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) helps Ramanujan refine his discoveries and publish his theories, despite strong opposition from many of their peers who have deeply ingrained racist beliefs and are opposed to recognizing Ramanujan's contributions.

Is it any good?

THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY is constrained by pedestrian storytelling. Ramanujan certainly had an unusual and eventful life as a mostly self-taught mathematician who was eventually recognized as a Fellow of the Royal Society -- one of the United Kingdom's highest honors. But an unusual life isn't the same as one that lends itself to an interesting movie, and that's the main flaw with this biopic.

In the end, the story feels more reverent than entertaining. Patel and Irons share a nice rapport, and Patel deftly expresses Ramanujan's fish-out-of-water experience as a devout Hindu living in England. But it's tough to make math visually compelling, and several of the scenes feel like they're checking off boxes: the racist attack, the character's unpleasant reaction to local food, the discrimination of the Cambridge elite, and more. In the end, they don't add up to create a whole movie that calls out to be seen. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about racism. How did it impact Ramanujan's life and professional accomplishments? Do you think things have changed significantly since the time the movie takes place in? Does the movie use the topics of racism and stereotyping to help convey any positive character strengths?

  • How does The Man Who Knew Infinity compare to other movies about scientific geniuses? What are the challenges involved in making advanced mathematics compelling on the screen?

  • What do think about the relationship between Ramanujan and Hardy? Why did Hardy insist that the Indian mathematician conform to English academic practices?

Movie details

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