Genius or Insanity
27 year old Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) is struggling, her maths professor father Robert (Anthony Hopkins) died a week early having struggled with insanity during the latter stages of his life and Catherine begins to wonder if she has inherited his insanity. To make matters worse her sister Claire (Hope Davis) is arriving for the funeral and they are like chalk n cheese with Claire wanting to sell the family house and for Catherine to move in with her in the city where she can get her medical attention. And then there is Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal) a student of her father's who loved him as much as Catherine and is sure that some where within her father's reams of notes must be proof that he was a genius. When Hal discovers something it makes matters even more complicated when Catherine says it was her who wrote it.
"Proof" is one of those movies where I have to say I can appreciate the acting and the production but the movie failed to grab me. The thing is that I half expected to struggle with "Proof" partly because of it being an adaptation of a stage play but also the subject matter which looks at the fine line between genius & insanity which makes it a wordy movie rather than one of drama and as such the sort of movie which you really need to be in the right frame of mind for if you prefer visual drama than dialogue heavy movies.
But as I said whilst "Proof" and its look at genius and insanity failed to grab me I can still appreciate it in certain ways. One of those is the direction of John Madden who effectively uses locations and lighting to create an interesting atmosphere especially during the opening scenes. He also balances the pacing nicely so the dialogue flows in a believable manner yet you have time to take it all in and digest it. Plus he also manages to incorporate the flashbacks of Catherine remembering times with her father without ever making it feel clunky. As adaptation of stage plays go this one is good as it expands the limitations of a stage to work as a multi location movie.
Then there is the acting and we have 4 very good performances of 4 very different characters. Each actor plays their parts well be it Hopkins bringing to life that element of a genius who might be insane whilst Paltrow convinces as a conflicted woman lost in her own thoughts and extremely insecure. But it is the way they interact especially Paltrow and Davis who as Claire treats her sister like she is insane which impresses.
What this all boils down to is that "Proof" is a good movie and is exceptionally well put together with nice performances and direction. But whilst all the parts are good the product as a whole fails to grab me as much as it grabs others.