Just like in comics, Film has a way of describing a character at a glance. Is he evil? Give him an eye patch. Use some kind of stereotype and you get the idea. I am posting a new kind of shorthand that I have noticed.
If you want the audience to know that the character is 'Really smart, but really kinda troubled...", put the character on campus under a hundred year old elm/oak tree. It worked with 'A beautiful mind' and it is used in the next Jessica Alba flick.