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Compelling drama about an enigmatic young woman haunted by her father's past and the shadow of her own future. On the eve of her 27th birthday, Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow), a young woman who has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father, a mathematical genius named Robert (Anthony Hopkins), must deal not only with the arrival of her estranged sister, Claire (Hope Davis), but also with the attentions of Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal), a former student of her father's who hopes to find valuable work in the 103 notebooks of Robert's.
Elegantly adapted from David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Proof works on so many levels that it shines like a perfected equation. Gwyneth Paltrow previously played her role onstage, and returns here as Catherine, the troubled 27-year-old daughter of Robert, a once-brilliant mathematician (Anthony Hopkins, appearing in flashbacks and imagined visions) who has recently died. What Robert has left behind is an emotionally challenging legacy of genius, mental illness, and unfinished business in the Chicago home where Catherine had cared for him during his erratic final years. Catherine fears she may have inherited her father's unstable condition, and her sister Claire (Hope Davis) arrives from New York with smothering concern and a selfish but well-meaning agenda, while Robert's student and assistant Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal) hopes to find lasting proof of Robert's enduring genius in the piles of notebooks he left behind. Steeped in the authentic atmosphere of advanced academia, revelations of love, fear, regret, and potential recovery unfold with such graceful complexity that Proof plays like a thriller, with all the action taking place in the admirable hearts and minds of its characters. The film also has a lot to say about the potential tragedy of assuming mental illness where none exists, while leaving just enough doubt to keep you wondering -- a tribute to the exceptional performances of a first-rate cast, and particularly to Paltrow, whose reunion with Shakespeare in Love director John Madden proves equally rewarding for entirely different reasons. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
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?Read more ›
This film isn't trying to be oh so intellectual. The people are portrayed very close-up, their emotions very raw and excellently played, especially by Paltrow whose talent sofar I obviously underrated, - or maybe her acting has matured?
Contrary to the previous review I don't feel she was being close to insanity herself, rather very tired from looking after a mentally ill father for years and sad about his death. The sense of loss mixed with anger and resignation is beautifully portrayed, and anyone who knows a carer cn certainly sympathise with these emotions.
I wholeheartedly recommend this film, despite the sad theme this isn't a film to sob your heart out to, my heart just went out to Catherine and at the end I was just smiling. Enjoy!
The film begins on a rainy night in Chicago in the home of Robert (Anthony Hopkins). Robert is a groundbreaking mathematician, a prodigy who made major contributions to three fields and revolutionized one of them twice before he was twenty-two. His unstable 27-year-old daughter Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) now inhabits the house and as she sits absent-mindedly changing the channels on the TV, Robert comes in and engages her in conversation about her forlorn state.
From the moment Robert opens his mouth, something is not right, and in fact it's immediately revealed that Robert has just died, setting the film's plot in motion. Catherine is soon visited by her New York-based yuppie sister Claire (Hope Davis), who begins to take over he life, but also visiting is Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal), a young protégé of Robert's who has become a professor in his own right.
Soon we learn that Robert's mind was devoured by dementia; Catherine who is afraid of following in the footsteps of her father is certain that she'll inherit the mental illness that laid him low. Robert was not just a genius; he also was someone who increasingly went in and out of sanity.Read more ›
When I finally did watch this film on DVD, my expectations were low. I was amazed to find myself watching a film that was moving, intriguing and beautifully acted.
I can see that Platrow might irk some, as she starts off being rather weepy and moaning. But as the film fleshes out we see all different sides to her character and she becomes more and more sympathetic. Nor do I think the accusation Smith made stands - Paltrow has already proved her acting skills by winning an Oscar. To my mind, she shines in this role, relishing the part, showing off her formidable talent. She ought to have got an Oscar nomination for this; so too, should Anthony Hopkins.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good performances all around from some stellar talent. Glad to have it in my collection.Published 6 months ago by Pantherwench
Love it, great movie, love anthony hopkins & the others are not too bad either! Like that it's based on a true story alsoPublished 11 months ago by Claire MCB
Gwynneth Paltrow stars as Catherine, the daughter of a once brilliant mathematician (Anthony Hopkins). Read morePublished 15 months ago by Sue
Great film, great cast, potentailly thrilling, but what a failure. Turgid dialogue. The plot doesn't develop, do, or go anywhere. Read morePublished on 17 July 2014 by Historyman