** Tricky Parlor Drama about Trust **
Release Date: March 22, 1992
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony
Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, and
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 99 minutes
Distributor: Miramax Films/Buena Vista (The
Walt Disney Company)
Director: John Madden
Hart, Robert Kessel, Alison
Owen and Jeff Sharp
Producer: John Hart, Robert Kessel,
Alison Owen and Jeff
Sharp EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS:
Julie Goldstein and James D.
Writer: David Auburn and Rebecca
Miller BASED ON THE PLAY BY:
Address Comments To:Bob and Harvey Weinstein
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (323) 822-4100 and (212) 941-3800
Fax: (212) 941-3846
Told partially out of sequence, the movie begins with Catherine confronting one of her father’s students, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, as he combs through the recently deceased father’s journals. The student is looking for any scraps of work that his professor may have left behind. Catherine is in a fragile mental state and accuses the student of trying to steal valuable information from the journals, and she demands proof that he is not. The title word repeats several times, as characters demand proof for emotions or claims that cannot be proven in a mathematical, empirical way.
Through flashbacks that occur gradually throughout the movie, viewers learn Catherine has great potential in mathematics, like her father. Often she would neglect schoolwork to continue her own explorations of complex mathematical theories. When his mental illness got worse, Catherine quit school and moved back home with her dad. That sacrifice accounts for some of her erratic behavior now.
After the funeral, Catherine shows her father’s student a notebook that contains a groundbreaking mathematical proof. She tells him that she made it, but neither the student nor Catherine’s sister believe her. Issues concerning trust, truth, identity, family, and sacrifice arise from the ensuing conflict over the notebook’s authorship. PROOF offers a lot to ponder for moviegoers.
The script of PROOF is structured elegantly; it never tells the audience more than they need to know at that moment. Continually the audience makes conclusions about the characters, but they must be revised in the next scene, and again in the next. It’s a risky style that is often botched, and it helps to dress up what is essentially a mundane story of an academic personality emerging from its shell.
Although the dialogue and acting are great, most notably from Gyllenhaal, PROOF cannot shed its past as a stage play. Many scenes are static and don’t fully utilize this medium’s power. As the ending slides its pieces together, however, the mystery is interesting enough to make the audience forget such minor problems.
PROOF contains profane language that will turn off Christian viewers. There is also a sex scene that does not ‘show’ too much. What contributes most to the movie’s emotional dullness is that the characters seem hopelessly grounded, totally oblivious to God and saving grace. They try to find their meaning through accomplishment and community, which can certainly be positive pursuits, but they’re fruitless if severed from God.
Overall PROOF is an interesting, talky drama with a lot to say. Adults looking for a mature, if not edifying, entertainment may be satisfied.
PROOF contains profane language that will turn off Christian viewers. There is also a minor sex scene. What contributes most to the movie’s emotional dullness is that the characters seem hopelessly grounded, totally oblivious to God and saving grace. The script is structured elegantly, never telling the audience more than they need to know. The acting is good, but it’s obvious that PROOF is adapted from a stage play. As the ending slides together, however, the mystery may be interesting enough to make the audience forget these problems.