Gwyneth Paltrow as Catherine
Anthony Hopkins as Robert
Jake Gyllenhaal as Hal
Danny McCarthy as Cop
Hope Davis as Claire
Tobiasz Daskjewicz as Limo Driver
Gary Houston as Professor Barrow
Roshan Seth as Professor Bhandari
Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) has spent the last five years living with and caring for her father Robert (Anthony Hopkins), a once brilliant mathematician who has been slowly falling into mental illness. When he dies she must try to put his affairs and her feelings in order while dealing with the unwanted attentions of her sister (Hope Davis) and her father’s protégé (Jake Gyllenhaal), worrying that she may have inherited both her father’s genius and his madness.
Based on David Auburn’s play, “Proof” falls into the typical Hollywood trap of trying to portray genius in that it works very hard to be clever, but instead manages to mostly just be obnoxious.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Catherine remains in an almost constant state of emotional trauma, moving rapidly between different states of distress. The story is necessarily about her eventually coming out of this trauma, but it never gives the audience a chance to know Catherine before her troubles, so it’s hard to engage with her. That’s the problem that plagues the entire film. Claire tries hard, but just doesn’t understand her sister or her father’s world, and Hal tries too hard to be smart and clever. The only character who exudes any sort of warmth and humanity is Robert, and he’s crazy.
“Proof” is a smart film, but it tries too hard. It wears its heart on its sleeve, and the pathos becomes a bit much because there is little to balance it out.
“Proof” is rated PG-13 for some sexual content, language and drug references.