Proof differs a lot from the other two movie as it has a heroine at the center – Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow). Another difference is that if there’s a duo in the movie, it’s not entirely on-screen. I’m referring to John Madden working with Gwyneth Paltrow again (Shakespeare in Love).
The story is about a brilliant mathematician, Robert (Anthony Hopkins), who has gone insane at the age of 27 but not before revolutionizing three different fields in mathematics.
His daughter Catherine, also 27, is stressed from years of caring for her sick father and the fear that his insanity could be hereditary.
If you have concerns that the movie will be all about incomprehensible mathematics, you’re only half right. It is about mathematics but the director manages to keep it very accessible. The focus of the film is Catherine’s emotional and intellectual crisis.
The movie opens with a father-and-daughter scene that lets us see the “sane” Robert who turns out to be only a vision, since he just died. His death summons his New York daughter, Claire (Hope Davis), and also his dissertation student, Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal).
Apart from these three, Robert is survived by 168 notebooks full of his ramblings. Jake is attracted to Catherine and his professor’s scribbles in equal measure. He’s convinced there’s a brilliant line somewhere that could lead HIM to greatness. Claire is preoccupied with a myriad tasks, all in a notebook of her own. Taking care of her distressed sister falls somewhere between getting freshly brewed coffee and packing her father’s belongings.
Although there’s conflict in all scenes, it erupts to a Mount Vesuvius status when Catherine shows another notebook (the 169th?) to Hal. The notebook contains a proof that’s clearly not the work of a madman. It could’ve been Catherine who wrote it, or it could be her father, in his nine months of remission. I won’t spoil it for you by providing the answer to the movie’s central question.
The performances are all top-notch. If there’s a problem with the movie, it’s in the fact that it’s an adaptation from a play. Some scenes come as heavy and staged. There isn’t much movement and the transitions are sometimes abrupt. I haven’t seen the original play (I never stay in London long enough), so I can’t comment on the quality of the adaptation itself.
Overall, Proof is a solid movie with excellent performances. I hated Jake in The Day after Tomorrow but I think I’m warming up to him. My girlfriend is teasing me that if I like him in Brokeback Mountain, I could kiss my heterosexuality bye-bye. Yeah, right!