Paltrow + Madden prove theory in Proof
|Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal in Proof|
Comparisons to A Beautiful Mind are inevitable based on the material but Proof stands on its own terms and delivers with solid performances by Gwyneth Paltrow, Hope Davis, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Director John Madden re-teams with Paltrow (they struck Oscar Gold together with Shakespeare in Love) and clearly understands how to bring the best out of the actress.
The script, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Auburn, has been adapted for the screen by Auburn and Rebecca Miller (Personal Velocity). It translates very well and never seems constrained by the staging. Director Madden never bogs us down, the pace moves rapidly as it takes place in a time frame of approximately six days and isnít drawn out any longer than it should.
Paltrow plays Catherine, a dutiful daughter that must deal with the death of her father after spending the last four years giving up her life to care for him. Her father, played by Anthony Hopkins, was a world renowned mathematician whose latter years became crippled by insanity.
Her father's former student, played by Gyllenhaal, helps comfort her while he also searches through her father's last work in hopes of finding a brilliant proof that her father may have left behind. However, her estranged sister Claire, played by Davis, arrives to settle their father's affairs, and to remind Catherine that their fatherís illness may have been passed along to her.
The drama works well as the self-interest of each character nearly outweighs their good intentions. The theme of Proof doesnít sing out as well as I might have hoped, but taken as a whole, the film works on many levels.
Martin Kelley is a local independent filmmaker and co-president of the Atlanta Screenwriters Group.