John Madden directed a London stage play of Proof
in 2004 starring Gwyneth Paltrow and written by David Auburn. The film version
once again reunites the three, this time with a slew of new actors and a
little help with the screenplay by Rebecca Miller (Ballad of Jack and
Proof Movie Review
The film version of Proof respects the
story's penchant for subtle humor amid a sea of mental agony. Paltrow is
Catherine, daughter of the former mathematician genius Robert who has in
recent years descended into irreparable mental turmoil. Who knows if this
madness is responsible for his early achievements? The problem now is if
Catherine, also a promising math wizard, is experiencing the same insanity.
Her sister Claire (Hope Davis) certainly thinks so.
Robert has finally passed and Claire returns to her Chicago hometown to attend the funeral and persuade Catherine to move with her to New York. Somewhere along the way Catherine falls for math student Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal) and descends into an uncomfortable but believable romance, er…relationship. Catherine directs Hal to a hidden notebook containing a "proof" (a mathematic solution that is pages long). She claims the proof is hers, Hal and Claire think otherwise. In her borderline madness, it is hard to tell at this point if she did.
Paltrow's Catherine is a depiction of uncertainty drenched in grief and she is surprisingly adept at channeling forlorn genius suppressed by seemingly unnecessary loyalty. She does her best to convince herself that she's not crazy and teeters unsteadily on the ledge of sanity. She is by nature a recluse because she lives in the shadows of her father for so many years. She fears the light but wants to be like her father once was. Having lost her father, Bruce Paltrow, not long before filming began, it is nice to see some truly honest angst smeared across her pretty face. Likewise, Hope denotes a chirpily ignorant but helplessly supportive sister looking to make up for lost time while her father suffered through his last years.
The play translates shakily onto the screen. The story to Proof
is engrossing, the acting superb. But there are moments when two figures
standing in the snow discussing life and mental health is simply not enough.
One expects more on the big screen.
Directed by John Madden
Screenplay by David Auburn and Rebecca Miller
A Miramax release
Running time: 1:40.
Catherine: Gwyneth Paltrow
Robert: Anthony Hopkins
Claire: Hope Davis
Hal: Jake Gyllenhaal