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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Gwyneth Paltrow
Anthony Hopkins
Jake Gyllenhaal
Hope Davis.
Directors
John Madden.
Screenwriters
David Auburn
Rebecca Miller.
Running Time
100 minutes

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Proof
Gwyneth Paltrow revives her stage performance for the big screen.


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Plot
Reeling from her mathematician father’s death, Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) gets involved with a student, Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal), and argues with her sister (Hope Davis), who fears for her mental health. When a genius mathematical proof is found in her father’s papers, Catherine is the subject of accusations and finds it hard to prove her sanity.


Review
Proof

Based on David Auburn’s play, Proof wears its theatrical origins on its sleeve, with a small cast, modest locations and act-based structure. None of this lessens the film’s impact: this exploration of a woman’s grief and mental struggle is best set in a claustrophobic environment with few characters to crowd her out.

By staying close to Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) and gradually revealing her story by flashback, this beckons us deep into both her internal and external worlds. We want to believe in her sanity, but are forced to question it — perhaps like Catherine herself. Paltrow does an excellent job as the shy loner, affecting youthful, sulky mannerisms without resorting to stereotype. Anthony Hopkins, meanwhile, brings both gravitas and dark humour as Catherine’s mentally ill father, while Jake Gyllenhaal makes for an effective, if buff, maths geek.

That Proof spends little time on maths may come as a relief to some, but it makes the film’s centrepiece — the proof itself — something of a mystery, undermining the plot’s impact. Those who prefer character drama to number-crunching, however, will be well-served by this brooding tale.


Verdict
A subtle, slow-burning mystery that does justice to its themes of identity, sanity and sacrifice.


Reviewed by Anna Smith

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Proof
Empire Star Rating

Good

A good script and I'd say Paltrow's best performance ever but the ending was a complete 'is that it?' moment. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 11:43, 06 July 2008 | Report This Post


an average film which feels stagey , even with the high level cast involved ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 16:36, 07 January 2007 | Report This Post


Loved it

What a refreshing movie. Just when I'd given up on hopes of ever seeing a brilliant movie again, along comes Proof. Gwyneth Paltrow deals a brilliant performance but the whole cast is ultimately faultless. A great ensemble. A great film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by redlight at 01:02, 12 July 2006 | Report This Post


Charming but wouldn't bear repeated watching

I thought this was a charming film, albeit insubstantial. I didn't think it suffered from the play-translation process as much as, for example, Closer, and the performance of Gwyneth Paltrow (Catherine) really stood out. Anthony Hopkins solid as always, and Jake Gyllenhaal is pleasant on the eyes. I would have liked to see Hope Davis's character Claire fleshed out a little more though. She could have been made more sympathetic towards the end, especially after it becomes apparent that Catherine'... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by katerpillar at 14:57, 07 March 2006 | Report This Post


Very, very good film! I'm not a mathsy person, but this film really had all my attention from start to finish. All the actors were fantastic and there were some gorgeous shots. Some of the dialogue (mostly at the beginning, for me) was a bit clunky, but I thought this was a really good film that deal with a lot of issues and had fantastic characterisation. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Satine at 12:46, 04 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Adding Maths to Madness Once Again

I thought this was a good film. I thought everyone put in excellent turns, but.... For me the one things missing was the chemistry between Paltrow & Gyllenhaal. I realise their relationship is not actually pivotal to the plot nor is it of great importance, but that was the one thing that stood out as being wrong in my opinion. They were great in the roles they had, but totally mismatched for each other. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JV at 22:59, 15 February 2006 | Report This Post


Proof

If there's one thing I've learned from Hollywood, it's the fact that maths and mental stability rarely go hand-in-hand. If you are a maths genius who somehow manages to avoid schizophrenia or autism, then there's bound to be some other ailment on the horizon to ensure your life is not to be a happy one. In i], we have mathematical brilliance and mental woe which may or may not span two generations. Robert (Anthony Hopkins) certainly went a little loopy after a stunning career in which he redefi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Philconcannon at 22:54, 15 February 2006 | Report This Post


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