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Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Auburn, Proof follows a devoted daughter (Paltrow) who comes to terms with the death of her father (Hopkins) a brilliant mathematician whose genius was crippled by mental insanity -- and is forced to face her own long-harbored fears and emotions. She adjusts to his death with the help of one of her father's former mathematical students (Gyllenhaal) who searches through her father's notebooks in the hope of discovering a bit of his old brilliance. While coming to terms with the possibility that his genius, which she has inherited, may come at a painful price, her estranged sister (Davis) arrives to help settle their father's affairs.
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That is: As a former math major, I find this movie fascinating. Someone involved clearly knew a lot about math, because the descriptions of the struggles involved in striving to the highest levels of mathematics, as well as the nature of searching a difficult proof, strike me as knowing and insightful. Much as I recommend Searching for Bobby Fischer for its insights into the chess world, I recommend this movie for, among many other strengths, its insight into higher math.
It's about a brilliant mathematician, and the main character (his daughter), that both work on, well, mathematics. But besides math, the story is about a girl who takes care of her father who has a degenerative disease. A close bond between father and daughter, the story draws out a dramatic plot between the daughter and life itself.
And like the title, the movie is about a particular proof. However, it doesn't tell you what the proof is about. It's simply a story about a girl, somewhat of math, and her family and friends.
Gweyneth Paltrow as Catherine gave a very emotionally draining performance in the movie. She managed to display the fears, hatred, disappointment etc. in Catherine's journey of love, trust and betrayal. However, there is a bit too much crying in the movie that actually taxed quite a bit of the character in terms performance. Anthony Hopkins as the father is just flawless. The way he portrays the father who thinks he still possesses a brilliant but in fact "out-of-order" mind is just right to the point. Delicate as a piece of well crafted china. The casting does make it right for him. Hope Davis as Claire is as annoying as ever - the control freak sister who thought of redeeming herself through the taking over of matters from her abandoned sister, after years of avoiding caring duty of her father. Nonetheless, her affection for her sister does make up a lot to her distant approach in the past. Jake Gyllanehall as Hal could be regarded as the weaker character in the movie. Probably after Brokeback Mountain, people will expect a lot from him. Not that he is bad, but the character itself isn't as multi-layered as the other three, which in a way put him on a disadvantaged ground right from the beginning.
In all, this is a very faithful adaptation of the play and if you like the play, you will like this movie. One thing we could appreciate at least is that the director managed to turn a play that only happens in the set of a single house into a more geographically spread experience, which breathes a sense of real life into the play itself. Also scenes written to bridge different time frames and background stories were very well done as they all managed to tie into the original plot of the play. It is definitely a movie that had made good full use of the play. It's a pity that this movie was overlooked during the took over of Miramax by Disney, otherwise it would have a better standing in this year's award season.
so often a movie appears with real substance that can touch us differently then the abusive fair that Hollywood constantly
produces. This movie is 'proof' that sanity and pure messages still exist, although hard to find these days. The message
is that we as humans can strive for the best, under difficult circumstances, and that good will always prevail over all
else that passes for it.