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Proof

March 27, 2012

Proof (2005)
Director: John Madden
Actors: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anthony Hopkins

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Synopsis: The daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow) of a recently deceased and hallowed mathematician (Anthony Hopkins) struggles to lay claim to a great mathematical ‘proof’ that is presumed to belong to him.

Review: This is a crass little film about an unlovely group of people, and the whole set-up which pays lipservice to a variety of subjects and themes such as mathematics, familial strife and mental illness is grossly underserved by the material and treatment here. Everything about the film feels bogus – from the totally clichéd way that Hopkins’ demented, dishevelled genius is conveyed (an unkempt appearance, and a study replete with a stack of books and papers with mad musings), to the complete inability of Gwyneth Paltrow to suggest the complex layers of mathematical genius and parental bereavement beneath her character’s whiny, neurotic persona. Probably best not to mention the insulting stereotyping of mathematicians as social duds, the complete misnomer of a plot dynamic concerning whether Paltrow’s character did actually write her father’s last great mathematical proof, or the crass conception of Hope Davis’s comically superficial sister (she goes clothes-shopping on her father’s funeral wouldn’t you know)? Definitely one to avoid…(March 2012)

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