Publicity Stills of "Proof"
(Courtesy from Golden Village)

Genre: Drama
Director: John Madden
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Hope Davis and Jake Gyllenhaal,
RunTime: 1 hr 39 mins
Released By: Golden Village
Rating: NC16 (Scenes of Intimacy

Opening Day: 12 January 2006

Synopsis :

PROOF is the compelling story of an enigmatic young woman haunted by her father’s past and the shadow of her own future, exploring the links between genius and madness, the tender relationships between fathers and daughters and the nature of truth and family.

On the eve of her twenty-seventh birthday, Catherine (Paltrow), a young woman who has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father, a mathematical genius named Robert (Hopkins), must deal not only with the arrival of her estranged sister, Claire (Davis), but also with the
attentions of Hal (Gyllenhaal), a former student of her father’s who hopes to find valuable work in the 103 notebooks of Robert’s.

As Catherine confronts Hal’s affections and Claire’s overbearing plans for her life, she struggles to solve the most perplexing problem of all: How much of her father’s madness – or genius – will she inherit?

Movie Review:

Proof is not so much about the subject of math and insanity as it is about the issues of trust in oneself and in others. Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love), this movie is the film adaptation of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning play written by David Auburn. Think: A Beautiful Mind on a much smaller scale, with less displays of crazy antics and more of a drama that is performed on a realistic degree.

Portraying Catherine, Paltrow plays a young woman who has to come to grips with her father’s death and her own possible inheritance of not only his genius, but also his mental illness.

The story revolves around four main characters and the movie opens with a tired looking Catherine. Being a young caregiver to an elderly parent has taken its toil on her. Hair messy, clothes worn and unkempt, she spends her 27th birthday alone in front of the TV hallucinating that her father, Robert (Anthony Hopkins) is still alive.

In comes Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has been spending a lot of time up in her father’s attic. An old student of Robert’s, Hal who is a math professor himself, is trying to search through 103 notebooks to see if there is anything worth publishing, all of which were written during the five years when her father was declared mentally unstable. Hal, who idolised her father, also harbours romantic interest in her and adds to Catherine’s dilemmas as she questions the motives of his actions.

Returning to Chicago for the funeral, her sister Claire (Hope Davis), almost immediately tries to take control of her sister’s life, and constantly tries to convince Catherine that she is mentally ill like their father.

The problem really begins when Catherine provides Hal with a highly complex proof about prime numbers and Catherine declares she wrote it. Or did she? The question of authorship between father and daughter becomes the catalyst in revealing the true nature in all them.

Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow gives a solid performance and it is probably one of her best to date. Her character is rough around the edges and immersed with self-doubt and insecurity of her own santity. Her pain and confusion stifles her potential and personality and in this case, she really gets misunderstood often. Anthony Hopkins has a commanding presence in the flashbacks and is convincing as a stern but loving father, who does not realise how crazy he really is.

The remaining supporting cast are worth mention too. Jake Gyllenhaal might be a little too hunky for a math professor, but his deliverance makes him believable enough, especially in his dialogues with Paltrow. Lastly, Hope Davis makes a great character to dislike in doing the wrong things for the right reasons.

Overall, the movie gets better as it goes along, though if you are a math geek, do not count on seeing a lot of technical details. The story though simplistic is intelligent and realistic as a real-life drama, and Gwyneth Paltrow is the main reason why this movie works in the end.

Movie Rating:

(An intellectual movie with a talented cast, led by Gwyneth Paltrow – the script and pace could do better, but it is engaging enough with its concepts of life, love, sanity and trust.)

Review by Jolene Tan

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