PROOF (John Madden). 100 minutes. Opens Friday (September 30). For venues and times, see Movies, page 115. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Proof is another misunderstood mathematical genius film - think A Beautiful Mind: The Sequel. Reprising the role she played in the London production of David Auburn 's overrated play, Gwyneth Paltrow is Catherine, the troubled daughter of a recently deceased math prof ( Anthony Hopkins ).
Grumpy and unkempt, she's mired in a depression, lashing out at her well-meaning sister, Claire ( Hope Davis ), as well as a grad student ( Jake Gyllenhaal ) who's busy rifling through her dad's notebooks.
The story hinges on whether Catherine inherited her father's math smarts and/or his mental illness. Even with a mid-point twist that betrays the film's theatrical origins (it closed the first act with a bang), the piece just isn't very compelling.
The watered-down theoretical math talk fails to draw us in, and director John Madden can't hide behind period details, as he did in costume pieces like Mrs. Brown and Shakespeare In Love.
What's left in the equation is a set of fine performances: Paltrow angry and resentful (much has been made about her filming this after her own father's death), Davis doing the most with her insulting yuppie shrew and Gyllenhaal digging deep into his role as an ambitious and possibly self-seeking student.
As a bonus, Paltrow and Davis do make convincing siblings.