Movie Reviews
4:43 pm
Mon September 12, 2005

Proof

Proof that a play can become a film.

Knowing that Proof won Tony and Pulitzer awards, I approach the film with reverence and skepticism, given the stage production had a single set and the film uses several other locations, as films are wont to do. I am here to report the play is well-adapted to film, with an Oscar-worthy performance by Gwyneth Paltrow, no such honor for Anthony Hopkins, and a miscasting for a much too hunky Jake Gyllenhall as a mathematician. The themes of parental influence, truth and doubt, trust, and appearance and reality are nicely woven into a deceptively lean script (Just think of the play Copenhagen, peopled by physics types, and its runaway verbosity).

David Auburn's script allows Paltrow to muse about her intellectual and emotional inheritance from her genius dad, whose funeral is imminent. At the same time a question of plagiarism offers a conflict that is both vexing and irresolvable. Jake Gyllenhaal's young professor Hal, not as dorky as he should be, provides romance and refereeing between sisters about the authorship of research discovered in the prof's drawer.

But mostly this is a story of a family and the deep ties between a father and his daughter. Her debt to him genetically and academically, is palpable; his influence on her, even in his dementia and finally his death, is always present.