Proof, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name, is a movie that looks at the boundaries between brilliance and madness, and questions our willingness to believe in things that don’t fit into what we have come to believe.
Gwenyth Paltrow reprises her role as Catherine, the daughter of a brilliant and mentally ill mathematician, Robert (Anthony Hopkins). Catherine has spent many years caring for her ill father and upon his death is lost and many worry that she is suffering from the same illness that overtook her father, particularly her sister Claire (Hope Davis). As Claire tries to convince her sister to come back to New York with her and seek some help and her father’s student, Hal (Jake Gyllenhal) searches through Robert’s writings to see if he was at all productive in the latter years of his life and a proof is found. This proof stands to revolutionize the math world as we know it but controversy arises as Catherine proclaims she is the author of this work, not her father.
Proof director John Madden tells the story of Catherine alternating between flashbacks that depict her life with her father during the years he was deep and the present day as she buries her father and the proof is discovered. His approach is that of a slow burn. You learn an awful lot about Claire and her time with her father as well as her current and past mental state, to the point that you begin to question her authorship of the proof just as the other characters in the film question her ability to create such a complex work. The movie doesn’t quite succeed in building and delivering on the suspense it tries so desperately to create however, because it spends a lot of time doing nothing and going nowhere. The movie reaches the halfway mark before the discovery of the proof is even revealed, leaving very little time and a series of montages to go from questioning who wrote the proof to finally coming up with an answer…sort of.
I’ve never seen the play, but considering it won a Pulitzer it can’t be that bad. David Auburn who wrote the play also wrote the screenplay. Some would argue that isn’t a good idea, that when it comes to adapting source material someone other than the original author should do the writing. After watching Proof I’m inclined to agree with them.
Rarely do DVD extras of non-animated or children friendly films offer anything worth writing about. Proof’s DVD extras are no exception. There are very few offerings: a director’s commentary, deleted scenes, and a making of Proof - how it went from play to film. What these extras offer the viewer is minimal. With the exception of the deleted scenes, the other special features are just as slickly produced as the movie itself but don't really give any insight on the making of the film.
I’ve never been a big fan of the director’s commentary of a film. I haven’t been because much of the commentary seems scripted, arrogant and not all that informative these days. There are some exceptions to this rule, Michael Bay on the Bad Boys DVD and Tarantino on Pulp Fiction, but Proof’s director John Madden sounds like a monotone narrator as he explains to us how he never likes opening credits on film but how in this case they were important because they brought an empty feel to this scene and that is what he was looking for. Spare me. Please.
There are only three deleted scenes and they are all of different versions of scenes that actually made the film. The differences are so slight that if you aren’t paying close enough attention you could easily miss the changes. Also the one section of the special features, the from play-to-film section, which had the ability to be the most interesting and informative is a complete bust. I watched and learned no more about how they took the story form play to film than I knew before I began. There are no interviews with Jake Gyllenhal for this piece which seemed a bit odd considering they interviewed everyone else (there is lots of footage of him however).
I suggest watching the movie but skipping the extras. The movie isn’t half bad but there are better things you can do with yourself than watching lame and dull special features on this DVD.