Published Oct 01, 2005The theatre and the cinema obviously share a similar art of performance. However, this does not necessarily mean that the translation from one medium to the other is always possible. Sometimes a play is suitable only as a play, and a film only as a film. Yet since cinema was invented over a century ago, the idea of translating one medium to the other has proved incredibly popular and quite often, successful.
This is not the case with John Madden's Proof, which was adapted from David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Like last year's Closer, Proof has all the workings of a great film (stellar performances, interesting themes, clever dialogue) but falls flat within the confines of celluloid.
Proof finds Gwyneth Paltrow giving a career best performance as Catherine, a woman struggling with the death of her father, a brilliant but mentally unstable mathematician played by Anthony Hopkins. Paltrow encompasses her character, so much so that one truly feels as if they are watching Catherine and not the movie star they are so familiar with. Catherine fears for her stability in the wake of her father's death, and her life becomes increasingly complicated by the arrival of her meddling sister, Claire (the always enjoyable Hope Davis), and by a grad student/possible love interest who is interested in the work their father left behind (Jake Gyllenhaal).
There are so many scenes during Proof that accomplish meaningful and darkly comical moments within these interesting characters' lives. Yet as the film draws to a close, one realises that when joined together as a film, these scenes do not achieve the cinematic wholeness that is necessary when dealing with Proof's issues.
While the film touches on topics of father/daughter relationships, mental illness and at its core, mathematics, the end product fails to bring together these ideas so that their intended meaning is expressed. Proof is proof that just because a story may work quite perfectly on the stage doesn't necessarily mean its screen adaptation will provide similar success. (Alliance Atlantis)