Review: Proof

So, traditionally, I hate math. Always have. I still don’t know all my multiplication tables and I’m getting a Ph.D. in a physical science… I do, however, like to hear about the crazy math stuff that can be applied. For example, I liked “A Beautiful Mind” and I regularly watch “Numb3rs” on Fridays…but I hated “Pi” (mainly because it was as boring as almost every Stanley Kubrick movie ever made…yes, I fell asleep in “The Shining”…deal with it…).

Therefore, “Proof” looked good, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it since it centers around mathematicians. Basically, Gweneth Paltrow plays Anthony Hopkins daughter and Jake Gyllenhaal plays Hopkins’ student… Hopkins is a brilliant mathematician and Paltrow follows in his shoes…but Hopkins has slipped into insanity. The primary question of the movie is whether Paltrow is or is not affected like her father. It is frequently mentioned that mathematicians do their best work before the age of 23 (i.e. really young), so if you’re older than that, is it worth trying anymore? If you’re affected by a mental illness like your father, do you still try to make a life for yourself? Or do you just give up?

I’m doing my best not to mention much about the plot, since it’s better not knowing much about it when you see it. Similarly to “A Beautiful Mind,” there are occasions when you think you know what’s going on, but you definitely don’t…the flashbacks work to the story’s advantage such that they switch back and forth and you don’t necessarily know if it’s really happening, or if it’s in Paltrow’s imagination…

Two things that really struck me:

1). The movie is based on a play by David Auburn. Auburn also wrote the screenplay for the movie, so his “vision” for the play largely got translated over to the movie. There were a lot of flashbacks interwoven, so I’m rather curious how the heck he would have made that work in an on-stage situation…in movies, it’s pretty easy, but on a stage? Not so much…

2). Because it is based on a play, it only has 4 main characters: Hopkins, Paltrow, Gyllenhaal, and Hope Davis (Paltrow’s sister in the movie). If I remember right, there were only one or two other speaking parts throughout, so almost all the lines were between those four characters…and they all did excellent jobs. You could tell that a lot of work went in to pushing the emotion from the characters to the audience, much as you would do in a theatrical (i.e. a play) situation.

So, overall, it’s a good movie. You don’t have to see it in theaters (since it’s not exactly on “wide-release”), but it’s well worth renting sometime when it comes out. Paltrow may get another Oscar nomination for this one…

8 Replies to “Review: Proof”

  1. …if I use my fingers, I can multiply…really slowly… 😉

    …and “Pi” sucked…and “The Shining” wasn’t scary at all…just really boring… You should revise your taste in movies…although I do wanna see that “Grizzly Man” movie sometime…

  2. Dude…half of “Pi” was spent with the main character on his bathroom floor ranting mindlessly… “Requiem for a Dream” was a more entertaining movie… 😛

  3. So… I just watched Pi for the first time a few days ago- oddly enough it was curtosy of Andy (one of his 200 some odd divx movies he floated my way)… I thought it was one of those movies that would have been a really good movie if it had a runtime of 20min. ….however…. it did not.

  4. Requiem for a Dream was good too. I wouldnt say Pi is one of my favorite movies, but I thought it was interesting. 6 out of 10 for pi. 8.5 out of 10 for Requiem.

  5. I haven’t seen the staged version of ‘Proof’, but the film seemed like one of those “canned theatre” jobs. Other than the flashbacks — which are possible on stage too — the film doesn’t feel like a film. Either David Auburn doesn’t understand cinema, or director John Madden hacked his way through this one. But, like you say, the acting and the premise were good, so at least it’s watchable.

    Oh, and I liked ‘Pi’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *