"Let lose amongst the autumnal vistas of Southside Chicago, Proof’s breezy visuals complement its sombre subject matter."

Maths and film just don’t add up. But, Maths and drama, that’s a different matter altogether. Since the Academy-pleading A Beautiful Mind hit cinema screens it was the mind behind the math that began to attract audiences.

After getting a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for his hit play, David Auburn’s Proof found its way onto film and now DVD. Being one of Miramax’s last releases before the Weinstein brothers parted ways, Proof’s mix of maths and drama gave it the potential to be Good Will Hunting’s older and wiser sibling. Reviews were mostly positive but alas, for all its baiting – celebrated director? Check. A seasoned cast? Check. Mental angst? Check – Oscar passed this one by. Shame.

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With John Madden taking the directorial reins and Auburn adapting his winning source material, Proof is a slow-burning drama containing rounded performances, all set against the backdrop of good ol’ mathematics. It may not be the most volatile of equations, but with strong critical buzz at the Toronto Film Festival and the tantalising prospect of reuniting Shakespeare in Love’s award-winning actress and director partnership, Proof’s calculated assault on audiences' hearts and minds alike comes out a winner.

Subtly conveyed with brooding character nuance Auburn’s tale transposes gracefully onto the (small) screen. Let lose amongst the autumnal vistas of Southside Chicago, Proof’s breezy visuals complement its sombre subject matter. Ignore any minor miscalculations – the geek chic of Gyllenhaal’s miscast student is a notable faux pas – and immerse yourself in this superb tale of grief and the emotional baggage of self-realisation.

The story focuses on Paltrow’s Catherine (reprising her role from the London stage) as she comes to terms with the death of her father, a brilliant mathematician struck down by insanity. Sharing her father’s acute sense of all things numerical, life becomes complicated following her loss. Crowded by an estranged sister (Hope Davis) intent on delving into family affairs and a former student (Jake Gyllenhaal) begging the release of an unpublished maths journal possibly written by the deceased, Catherine is forced to question her own morality. Plagued with the double-ended-blade-alike dilemma of acquiring such a great mind but in turn losing it to disease, events begin to dawn on her and serious questions bring haunting conclusions.

How much of her father’s fractured mind has she inherited? And who really wrote the dormant masterpiece with the potential to revolutionise maths? Catch this non-head-bothering maths lesson and find out.

Reviewed on: 10 Oct 2006
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The mathematics of personal relationships, confused by an equation of madness.
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Read more Proof reviews:

Chris ****1/2
Anton Bitel ****

Director: John Madden

Writer: David Auburn, Rebecca Miller, based on a play by David Auburn

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, Danny McCarthy, Hope Davis, Tobiasz Daszkjewicz, Gary Houston, Anne Whitman, Leigh Zimmerman, Roshan Seth

Year: 2005

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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If you like this, try:

A Beautiful Mind