Untimely Reviews – “Proof”

My wife and I had a baby in January. Don't worry, we still have the baby and plan to keep him for the next seventeen and a half years or so. But a side affect of being a new parent is never leaving the house and never seeing movies in the theatre. Fortunately (or unfortunately) we have lots of movie channels that came "free" with our broadband connection. That is how we wound up watching "Proof" a year after its release and long after any knowledge of this movie had left our sleep deprived long term memory. This would prove to be our undoing.

"Proof" is the most boring movie I have ever seen. My wife wholeheartedly agrees, and she normally loves what she calls "all talk and no rock" movies. "Proof" is like sitting through a math lecture where the mathematician waxes elequently on a topic that has no relation to your problem set or the final exam so you start to zone out and your head falls closer and closer to your desk as your brain shuts down. "Proof" is like going to a party where you don't know anybody, end up listening to two guys talking about people, places, and things that have absolutely no relavance to you, and you eventually walk away without anyone noticing. "Proof" = 99 minutes wherein each minute is endless. "Proof" is endless. For all I know, I could still be watching it.

The gist of "Proof" is that a Gwyneth Paltrow is the daughter of a famous and crazy mathematician, Sir Anthony Hopkins. Gwyneth is a real melancholy mess because, as is explained in very boring flashbacks, she spent the last five years of her young life taking care of her crazy father.  The father is already dead, there is a funeral service, Gwyneth's horrid sister comes to town, and Jake Gyllenhaal is searching for the dead dad's notes for some great math discovery. Gwyneth has a cute smile, and Jake woos her.  This is the one shining truth of proof, even melancholy math whizzes can be attractive and loveable. A post coital Gwyneth gives Jake the key to her dad's desk. In the desk Jake finds a totally awesome mathematical proof.  It isn't the crazy dad's proof, its Gwyneth's. Hooray for Gwyneth!

Enter deus ex machina. This is the really sucky part of "Proof" but comprises the entire plot. Instead of giving Gwyneth kudos, Jake and the horrid sister adamantly believe that the proof was written by the crazy dad and not Gwyneth. Gwyneth can't offer proof that the proof is hers, and she goes into a super melancholy walking coma. Let me review the evidence against Gwyneth, her handwriting looks just like her fathers, she wrote the proof in her father's notebook, she locked the proof in her father's desk, and she told no one about the proof. The writers really covered their tracks here except they missed one key element, something interesting. The mystery is not so much resolved as much as the credits start rolling. 

On a legal note, the writers had the horrid sister sell the dead dad's house from under Gwyneth and kick her out on the street. Fictional math is one thing, but now they are treading on the territory of fictional law. For a little law review, occupants have thirty days to move after notice is given and the dead dad's house would have to go through probate. This is a minor point made more minor because I imagine most people would have fallen asleep by the time this event occurs. 

My brother says that "Proof" was originally a play and was probably adapted into a movie to win an Oscar. Indeed, "Proof" almost did win an Oscar for most boring movie. A good friend of mine confirmed that "Proof" was an off-broadway play and an incredibly good one at that. Perhaps I am too harsh. I have met living people who loved this movie and enjoyed the horrid sister, cut scenes, and ambiguous ending. Is their praise proof of a good movie? No it isn't. Q.E.D.

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