Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Oxford Murders: Movie Review

Great use of actual math and philosophical logic in an old-fashioned murder mystery.

An ambitious mathematics grad student in number theory, Martin (Elijah Wood), arrives in Oxford eager to work with famed Professor Seldom (John Hurt). The film refreshingly starts with a brief history of math and the philosophical stances of both characters on the subject. Then the first murder occurs, with of course the use of a symbol that begs the assistance of Professor Seldom and Martin in the police case.   2008

Directed by: Alex de la Iglesia

Screenplay by: Alex de la Iglesia and Jorge Guerricaechevarria

Starring: Elijah Wood and John Hurt

"The Oxford Murders" is good because it uses actual math and consistent logic. One of their only deviations is the use of Bormat's Last Theorem instead of Fermat's Last Theorem but that is just to keep in line with its fictional characters. There were perhaps a few too many twists but it was well enough written that most of them probably could have been predicted.

It plays out exactly like an old-fashioned murder mystery and set in the compelling Oxford University. Like old-fashioned murder mysteries, there is no violence or gore but has a liberal use of profanity and sexual nudity (but Wood and Leonor Watling are very attractive so that's not an issue). I enjoyed the use of math and logic in "The Oxford Murders" and will likely search out future films from the writers and director.