kept him isolated within himself until he found that he could belong. John Nash's struggle with schizophrenia is portrayed in the film through visual means and dialogue.
One of the key themes in the film is that people need to feel a sense of belonging, despite characteristics that make them different from others. John Nash wants to feel that he belongs to others, and he wants a sense of community. Early in the film, director Ron Howard portrays John standing at the window and looking out at people who are interacting with one another, forming a community together. Isolated from others, John remains inside peering through the glass. This is a visual cue to the audience about John’s loneliness and sense of isolation. John is the archetypal outsider peering through the glass but unable to join in.
His need for others and for community is so great that he creates people and interacts with them. The movie also shows us how John interacts with imaginary characters. There are scenes of John sitting on an outdoor bench and walking on campus with an imaginary friend. These scenes underscore for the audience how desperately John needs someone real in his life to give him a sense of relationship and friendship. John's interaction with his imaginary friends is poignant and provides insight into just how lonely he is.
However, John's difficulty connecting with others and forming bonds is shown in the dialogue between John and one of his imaginary friends. His "friend" Charles asks him what his story is, saying,
You the poor kid that never got to go to Exeter or Andover? ... Maybe you're just better with the old integers than with people?
John Nash’s response speaks volumes about his self-image and his view of his potential acceptance in the world. He tells Charles that his first-grade teacher told him that he had
two helpings of brain and one-half helping of heart.
This probably informed his self-image as he grew up, making it even more difficult for him to form relationships. John has a beautiful mind, as the title suggests, but he also has a bleak sense of his ability to be a part of the community. This also contributes to his arrogant treatment of others, including other students and his professors. He even says,
People don't like me much, and I don't like them.
Over the course of the film, it comes out that John suffers with schizophrenia, which causes him to have paranoid delusions. His only friends, including Charles noted above, exist solely in his own mind. They provide companionship and praise, with one imaginary friend telling him, "You're the best natural code breaker."
Finally, his growing relationship with Alicia, the woman whom he eventually marries, saves him from living a life in isolation. She grows to understand and love him. When he is awarded the Nobel Prize, he tells Alicia that she made it all possible for him, saying,
You're the reason I am. You are all my reason.
The movie’s ending shows John and Alicia at the Nobel Prize award ceremony. They exit the hall after he receives the award, and as they leave, John sees his imaginary friends. Alicia asks him what's wrong, and he replies, "Nothing at all." This is a visual and verbal cue to the audience that John has vanquished his delusional friends in order to have true friendship and love in the real world.