Cover Art and Menu: 4/10
Off the bat, the cover stinks and the menus are hard to navigate. That might be enough said about those two aspects of the DVD, but let me elaborate. The cover looks like some kind of morbid mystery movie. Paltrow does a great job in this movie breaking away from the older things she’s done….but on the cover of Proof they toss her on there with that same old pouty look and that’s a real put off for me. If I were to see this on a shelf in the store I would pass it by based on the boring cover. Sad, but true.
The menu is hard to navigate because when you move from one section to another, or return to the menu from watching an extra, the “cursor” seems to disappear for several seconds, and when it does appear it’s kind of hard to see. Not that a crappy menu is a problem, but it makes the whole package seem very amateur.
Extras & Features: 5/10
- Deleted Scenes – As is often the case with “deleted” scenes on DVD’s, these few offerings are just extended versions of scenes that you will see in the movie. There’s nothing that would change the tone or direction of the story.
- From Stage To Screen The Making Of Proof – This is a press pack type extra that has brief interviews with the director and cast. It is basically a commercial for the movie. It’s not very revealing, except that it does explain how this movie came from a play which happened to star Ms. “I’m a Rockstar’s Wife” Paltrow. That was a good tid bit to know. Unfortunately that is the only value to this tiny little extra.
- Director Commentary – I like Madden’s subtle style and his honest look at how people relate to one another, but he’s a bit boring sometimes. If you like the movie you might be able to hang in there through a second run with the commentary on. When the people doing the commentating are not very dynamic, I like to pop the DVD in my computer and listen as I do other things.
The Movie: 8/10
“It’s got Gwyneth Paltrow in it.” Those words made me wrinkle my nose and wonder how many times I would be distracted by her overly pouty style that I have not enjoyed, ever, in her entire career. I admit it, I have certain actors and actresses who don’t do much for my movie watching enthusiasm. Will Paltrow shake things up and not be the pitiful little waif she seems to like portraying so often? I’d say the answer to that is about 87% yes. Her character is a young woman suffering the loss of her father who she has cared for in his mentally ill state for a few years. She is vulnerable and delicate so it’s unfair to expect Paltrow to not be a bit on the waify side. I’ll give her that much slack, and I’m sure she appreciates it:)
I have to say I was happily surprised by the way she handled the intense emotional scenes without falling back on that old wimpy expression and sappy whine from the past. From the first scene to the last I was hooked by her and the character she seems to know so well. In the little extra bit they give you on the disc you find out that she played this roll in the original play for a while so I think that totally got her out of the “movie star” technique and into a more down to earth and honest approach to the part. Some of the dialogue is stylized and not so realistic, but that’s the nature of a play I suppose. The characters often speak to one another the way we might like to hear, but it doesn’t fit into real life conversations. I love it, don’t get me wrong. The way these characters interact is interesting, which is more than most movies can say about their dialogue. Paltrow doesn’t worry about being glamorous at all, she is as tortured on the outside as she is on the inside. I love that too. Not that I think leaving make-up off your face makes you a better actress, it’s just that when a glamour girl like Paltrow respects her character enough to leave her ego somewhere else, I appreciate that.
The story is touching but not boringly sentimental. Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Hope Davis finish off a great ensemble cast. Davis plays the snotty sister who swoops in after their father dies and wants to take her little sister away, convinced she suffers from the same mental illness their father did for so many years. The contrast between the sisters could come off as over the top, but the way these two actresses approach each scene together is amazing. I really enjoyed watching them together on the screen.
This film is unexpectedly entertaining, considering the subject matter. There are enough clever bits of dialogue mixed with paused moments for the characters to give us those thoughtful reactions, because we don’t all say what we feel and sometimes in movies they tend to over talk. Proof lets the weight of what the characters are feeling overshadow the need to chat us up all the time with wasted words. Don’t forget, this is a story that has a lot math talk. That’s right, mathematics are passion and talents championed by whomever wrote the original play. Much like Good Will Hunting, the intellectual bulk of the the story doesn’t absorb too much of our attention. Not that math isn’t fascinating :), but when you mix it into a story about emotionally challenging turns of life, it can be overwhelming. So, you won’t feel like you are mathematically challenged, they describe and explain what we need to know and leave the rest to a simple understanding that these people are geniuses in their world, and that’s good enough for me.
I highly recommend this movie for a few reasons. Paltrow and the rest of the cast are excellent. The story is interesting if not a touch quirky, which I love. The look of the film is lovely with detailed sets and a lovely college town back drop. It’s funny but touching, and as you watch the characters cope with their own individual issues, it’s satisfying not an empty chick flick story. I liked it. I think I’ll go watch it again.
As a DVD this is not good purchase. I highly recommend the movie, so go rent it. I don’t think it’s worth the $20 or more you will find it for online and in your local stores. They didn’t offer up much in the way of extras, the cover is blech, and the menus look like they were done by someone who hasn’t ever actually watched a DVD. I love the movie, but when it comes to reasons to actually buy this DVD, I can’t think of any. Rent it. Rent it. Rent it. It’s a great little film and Paltrow won me over, so it’s worth watching for sure.
Overall Score 6/10