I recently rented this film and was so glad I did. Please don't be put off, thinking it's all about Maths, but also, don't buy it or rent it if you want a light fluffy romance with Jake Gyllenhaal providing the eye-candy.
It's really about families (and how they can drive you mad), love and trust. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Catherine, the daughter of a recently deceased, brilliant Mathmatician (Hopkins), and she does it with so much intensity she is totally believable. She is racked with grief for her lost father but resents him for the years lost looking after him and keeping him out of the asylum. She feel resentful too of her controlling and insensitive sister, Claire, played brilliantly by Hope Davis, who left the burden of care on her whilst living her own life in another city. She may however have been glad that she did as the sisters have nothing in common, and I must admit that if forced to spend 48 hours in Claire's company , I would be questioning my own sanity. Catherine seems to hate everyone and is reserved and withdrawn, teetering on the brink of instabilty.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Hal, a mathmatician and former student of her father's who has come to wade through the 100 or so notebooks left by the dead man, in the hope that there was some work of note. Although, it's clear he has another motive for coming so often and staying so late - Catherine, and although she gives him no encouragement, his patience and persistance pays off as she opens herself up to him and rewards him with a notebook containing a 'proof' or mathematical theory that could change the course of mathematical history. This film is edited like a murder mystery with flashbacks giving us tantalising snippets of information. Did Catherine write the proof or was it her father? Would she willfully lie to take the credit for something her father did or was she deluding herself into thinking it was her own work? Has she inherited her father's brilliance or his madness? Will Hal trust her, or does he need further 'proof'? What was in the fridge?
The script is first class and the verbal exchanges between Catherine and her father, sister (God was she annoying!) and Hal make the film as enjoyable as it is. It is dark but also very witty in places. I felt very up-lifted at the end of this film and would recommend it to anyone, tired of teen rom/coms and blood-baths. It's the sort of film that doesn't come along often enough.