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Featured Blu-ray Review: Proof

January 3rd, 2012

Proof - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Proof was based on an award-winning play, it was adapted for the screen by the original author, it was directed by an Oscar nominated director, and stars two Oscar winning actors, plus another Oscar nominated actor and another Golden Globe nominated actress. It was clearly Oscar bait, but it failed to live up to those expectations. But now we get a chance to look at the film without the context of Awards Season. Does this help the film? Or is it still disappointing?

The Movie

Gwyneth Paltrow stars as Catherine, who is a mathematician, just like her dad, Robert. She turning 27, which is about the age her father was when he started developing signs of schizophrenia, and she's worried she not only inherited his mathematical genius, but also his mental illness. The two of them have a nice chant and he tries to reassure her that she can't be insane, because a crazy person wouldn't have the mental health needed to question their sanity. This doesn't comfort her too much, as he is crazy and he is able to question his sanity. But he's got a good excuse. He's been dead for a week.

We then bounce between a few time lines. We see Catherine and her sister, Claire, dealing with the aftermath of their father's death. It's difficult for the two of them, as they've never been close. Also, like Catherine, Claire is a little worried about Catherine's mental state. During this time, we also see Catherine interacting with Harold Dobbs, one of Robert's star students, who is now a teacher working on his doctorate. He's going through Robert's old notebooks looking for any of his old mathematical work to see if he had come up with a discovery. However, since Robert suffered from graphamania, the compulsion to write, there are over 100 notebooks and there's a lot to go through. We also flash back to when Robert was alive and more cognizant and his relationship with Catherine, as well as Catherine's own mathematical work.

Catherine and Harold start a relationship and it looks like things will begin to improve for Catherine. However, she gets into a huge fight with Claire, who wants to sell the house and have Catherine move to New York with her, so she can get help for whatever mental illness she may have inherited from her father. Then Catherine drops a bombshell. She gives a notebook to Harold with what could be a major, major mathematical proof. At first Harold thinks this could be the crowning glory to Robert's legacy, but then Catherine claims she's the one who wrote it. Neither her sister nor her new boyfriend believe her, which sends her into a depression. While Catherine becomes nearly catatonic, Claire prepares to sell the house and have Catherine move to New York with her. Meanwhile, Harold gets to work to see if the proof is valid, and if he can determine who wrote it.

Proof is an actors movie. All four leads give amazing performances and I'm a little surprised the film didn't earn more award season buzz. Maybe expectations were too high. Or maybe people were just expecting a film that was more focused on the math. The film that is about more than just that; in fact, it's more about family, love and mental illness than math. However, it should be noted that the film has been praised by several sources for its accuracy in portraying the academic setting. So it's the best of both worlds. If you are worried that the mathematics will prevent you from becoming engaged with the story, don't be. And if you are involved in that world, the math in the film won't drive you nuts.

There are some more legitimate complaints about the movie. For instance, the film was adapted from a play and, like many such films, there's a confined feel to it. For the most part, the movie is just four people talking. Also, having the parallel time lines play out has been called a gimmick by some. I think these complaints are valid, even though I disagree with them. It's a matter of opinion. Personally, I think the performances themselves outweigh any potential complaint one might have.

The Extras

There are no extras on the Blu-ray. Also, the video and audio can best be described as solid. It does look great a lot of the time with strong clarity, deep black, good colors, etc. There's no print damage or compression issues I noticed. That said, the film is not a visually stunning work of art. Likewise, the audio is solid with clear dialogue, but the surround sound speakers / subwoofer won't get a healthy workout. The list price is okay at $19.99, but on it costs $17.99, which is a bit much for this type of release. Wait to see if you can grab it at a deeper discount.

The Verdict

Proof is worth watching if you want to see a movie about a family dealing with depression and loss, as well as someone who is on the edge between genius and insanity. The Blu-ray has no special features, but looks and sounds good in high definition.

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Filed under: Video Review, Proof