A well-known, brilliant yet mentally unstable mathematician dies and leaves behind two daughters and a lot of filled notebooks in Proof. It’s an adaptation by David Auburn and Rebecca Miller from Auburn’s own Pulitzer Prize–winning play that works on every level. Live-in caretaker and daughter Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow, who reprises her role from the London stage) is a gifted mathematician, too, but lives in fear that her father’s instability may be a gene she inherits. Then there’s the professor’s protg Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is interested in Catherine. He’s obsessed with going through her father’s notebooks and then finds one that is astounding: a proof, a groundbreaking mathematical discovery. The problem is, it’s Catherine’s finding. Or so she claims.
The anamorphic 2.35:1 image, as well as the direction by Shakespeare in Love’s John Madden, captures the subtleties and beauty of Paltrow and her performance. The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is excellent, but there isn’t much in the way of extras. A director’s commentary, a stage-to-screen featurette, and some deleted scenes are about it. The action in this film derives from words and comes from within. It’s less about the proof itself than it is a terrific character study involving familial greatness, burdens both real and imagined, as well as trust and growth. Rich, complex, and smart, the talent in front of and behind the camera is well worth your time.