"Proof" is a movie that wears its glossy credentials on every frame: Not only is it an adaptation of David Auburn's much-lauded play, it's also the movie that reunites Gwyneth Paltrow with her "Shakespeare in Love" director John Madden. Surely this will be an Oscar-baiting success, too!
Well, Harvey Weinstein can't deny the thought occurred to him, anyway. And "Proof," arriving at the very end of his tenure at Miramax, demonstrates both the strengths and the flaws of Weinstein's habit of engineering tony boutique movies for the Academy's consideration.
Still, if you scrape away the calculation there's a reasonably okay movie inside, with Paltrow playing a troubled young woman named Catherine, the daughter of a recently deceased mathematician who most of her time fretting that she's inherited both his talent for numbers and the madness that defined his later life.
Squabbling with her prickly sister (Hope Davis) and falling for one of her father's students (Jake Gyllenhaal), Catherine struggles to maintain an even stream while her world comes apart ... and then there's the business of the world-changing mathematical proof locked away in an upstairs desk, which triggers a whole mess of domestic angst.
Auburn's play, opened up for the screen with the help of writer-director Rebecca Miller, is an intriguing balance of emotion and contrivance; you can see how the intimacy of the stage would been more forgiving to his lumpy plotting, and maybe the sister being such a predictable harpy wouldn't have seemed quite so clichid.
On film, though, it just feels kind of stagey, although the movie's very first scene -- a tender conversation between Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins, who plays her father - is a tiny, perfect duet that's almost worth the price of admission on its own. Maybe it should have been entered in the short-film category.
Miramax's enhanced-widescreen DVD offers an audio commentary by director Madden, who also offers his optional thoughts over three deleted scenes. The only other extra is a perfunctory production featurette, making this a pretty modest affair.
STUDIO:Miramax Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE:February 14th
TIME: 99 minutes
DVD EXTRAS: French audio dub; English and Spanish subtitles; audio commentary; deleted scenes; production featurette.
INTERNET SITE: www.video.com/miramax
Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal in "Proof." (February 19, 2006)
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