dir. Madden
Opens Fri Sept 23
Various Theaters

A Beautiful Mind—a story about a schizophrenic mathematician—won best picture for 2001. Proof—a story about a brilliant, but mentally ill mathematician and his brilliant, but (possibly) mentally ill daughter—seeks to mine the same territory. And mine it does, but the film is far from brilliant and light years from a best picture.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Auburn, Proof looks at a father, Robert (Anthony Hopkins), and daughter, Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow), both mathematicians who work diligently to discover new, complicated mathematical proofs.

Sadly, though, Robert, goes insane, and quick as that spends his evenings writing notebooks full of gibberish. Catherine is busy at college, but is forced to come home and take care of her ill father, where she spends her days working on those crazy proofs. When he dies, one of Robert's former students, Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal), comes over to the house to dig through the notebooks in order to see if Robert left anything worthwhile behind.

And this, my friends, is where the movie becomes profoundly stupid. You see, apparently, Catherine locked one of her proofing notebooks in her dad's desk, and besides that, she has the exact same handwriting as her dad. Hal finds a notebook with a legendary proof in it and thinks this is proof that Robert wasn't really insane. Then Catherine chimes in and says the proof is hers, but there's no proof because they have the same handwriting. (What? This play won a Pulitzer?)

Anyway, the movie ends entirely without climax. Most annoying was the extreme relevance of the word "proof" and the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow never loses her signature "I'm so cute and sad" face for one goddamn second. And by the way, didn't she say she was giving up acting to take care of her kid? Well there you go, Gwyneth. There's proof that you're a goddamn liar. ■