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Awesome: 31.25%
Worth A Look50%
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5 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Proof (2005)
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by Erik Childress

"Not All Of Life's Answers Can Be Proven"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: To use oneís brain to concentrate on several different projects at once will lead to either the status of genius or dementia. The ability to focus on just the moment at hand is more than most peopleís cerebellum can handle without getting dizzy and falling over. Itís likely why the world falls into two categories Ė those who love math and numbers and those who despise them. We can also then split that into a sub-category of those who have been driven mad by the very desire they have dedicated their life to and those who havenít. David Auburnís play, Proof, dealt with math geniuses and madness but itself was split off to define the everyday madness of career, responsibility and family Ė all fighting for dominance even if theyíre all the same thing. The film version is a powerful adaptation with fiery performances, plenty to decipher and enough yelling to give anyoneís brain an ache.

Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) is entering the downslide of her 20s. Time is running out to make the great leap in mathematics that scholars salivate for and the better half of her decade has been spent taking care of her father, Robert (Anthony Hopkins), a renown professor famous for his own early advances to the curriculum. Robert has now passed on and Catherine is stuck in a state of flux. Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal), a student of Robertís is dying to get a look at the endless notebooks his teacher has been stashing away since his departure from the field and her sister, Claire (Hope Davis), has her own checklist on life and wants Catherine to come home with her.

After Catherineís defenses and frigidity have been thawed by the persistent Hal, a discovery is made. A proof of a mathematical uncertainty, deemed unsolvable, is found in one of the notebooks. Hal wants Robertís legacy to continue and seeks to authenticate the problem. But thereís a snag. Catherine may have actually written it herself, but how can she prove it? The handwriting looks distinctly similar to her fatherís. She has shown flashes of being the daughter of the mind, but has been no more than an average student in his shadow. And what of Hal? Does he want to believe in the woman heís been to bed with, the hero whom he looked up to, or is professional jealousy leading him to side with Claire, whom in the back of her one-track mind senses Catherine may be falling the dark trail of their fatherís footsteps?

Whether or not Catherine did or did not write the proof or even if it can be checked out successfully ultimately doesnít matter. Itís just another problem in the equation of life that will be thought about, doublechecked and maybe not solved until hours or even years of contemplation. You may recall a scene in Robert Zemeckisí Contact, where the questions of science and religion merged into what is believed and what is believable. When one character claimed she loved her father very much, she was challenged to prove it. The metaphorical heart may know what its feeling but how can it measure love into a cogent equation to another even if itís worked out right in front of them?

Mary-Louise Parker may have made the role famous on Broadway, but after a stint in London with director John Madden (also taking duties here), Gwyneth Paltrow really digs her claws into it and maybe a few audience members as well. Her depression is so thick and comes to odds with everyone in her path, but we feel her frustration and the overt sadness that comes from the isolated now having everyone who wasnít there now telling her what to do and forcing her to make a commitment. The verbal sparring breaks the decibel meter so often that earplugs may be a necessity but not a certainty to blocking out the pain that Catherine carries with her.

What can be proven in this world? Is that why some people turn to math and science because any chance of an emotional connection has become barren to them? We canít always control what poisons the mind, but those that do and try to solve the unsolvable will find themselves lost in an infinity sign with no exit. How often are we trapped within our worlds while the real one keeps on circulating and expanding? Claire would probably lose everything if it wasnít jotted down in her little book, but itís a proven structure that works for her even if it leaves little room for the element of chance. The proof in the film may open up the doors for applications and give a whole lot of closed-door time, but its only a matter of time before they will be searching for the next one. We canít solve all the mysteries of life and even the most simplistic notions such as grief and pressure, but thereís something on the other end of an equal sign for all of us whether it be friendship, family or whatever adds up to four.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12758&reviewer=198
originally posted: 09/23/05 00:11:44
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/20/14 mona maggio was this about the same math professor in a beautiful mind? 3 stars
5/09/11 Stephanie Love this movie. Like the sequel to A Beautiful Mind! 4 stars
1/16/09 Shaun Wallner Interesting Story! 4 stars
10/15/07 R.W. Welch Adeptly written drama about crack(ers) mathematicians. Good casting. 4 stars
7/27/07 fools♫gold Originally and strangely exciting! 4 stars
5/02/07 swamprat Loved the play, and to really appreciate the movie- see the play 4 stars
11/24/06 sokukodo Excellent acting all around. 5 stars
8/20/06 dpl Good acting, but a story that goes nowhere... gives nothing. 2 stars
7/17/06 Katie This is a awesome movie but I would like to know if they are coming with a second one 5 stars
7/13/06 Taylor Fladgate Excellent performances 4 stars
5/17/06 michael pretty fair 4 stars
5/17/06 Gavin Bamber tear-jerker 4 stars
4/21/06 Indrid Cold Shakespeare in Love notwithstanding, I didn't realize Paltrow isn't just a pretty face. 4 stars
4/13/06 Kendra Gordon Its a a short movie and has a bad ending it doesn't 4 stars
3/19/06 Phil M. Aficionado Good solid effort by all, but not a particularly gripping thing. GP is excellent; Jake too 4 stars
3/03/06 Simon Excellently performed, but really, what else is there to write home about? don't ovranalyze 3 stars
10/15/05 jcjs i liked this more than 'Beautiful Mind' or 'Goodwill Hunting' which i thiink is contrived 5 stars
10/03/05 E. Northam Expect a filmed play. Brilliantly written; perfectly cast; superbly performed. 4 stars
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  16-Sep-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 14-Feb-2006

  10-Feb-2006 (12A)


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