Friday, March 24, 2006



Director: John Madden

This movie would have been better if the real John Madden had directed it--there at least would have been good color commentary.

Let me make the not-so bold claim that the only genre of movie worse than "submarine" is "math". Darren Aronofsky's Pi and Madden's Proof are about all I need to point for support. Apparently, though, math makes for great television.

The premise of the movie: Robert (played by Anthony Hopkins, reprising his role as the slightly eccentric but brilliant old guy that he has been thoroughly typecast perfecting in vehicles like The World's Fastest Indian, Alexander, The Human Stain, etc.) is a mathematician who has been dealing with mental instability. His daughter, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, takes care of him. He dies. An old student, played by a pre-Brokeback Jake Gyllenhaal, goes through his old notebooks, ends up making the beast with two backs with Gwyneth (who, in a real sign of restraint for her does not bare her breasts for the camera), finds a brilliant mathematical proof in the desk of the dead man, finds out that the daughter he just boned claims to have written it, is skeptical of said claim, pisses the daughter off only to (surprise?) come around to believe that she did write it. The end of the movie has the two of them sitting together, going through each line of the proof. There's a bunch of other garbage involving a totally unconvincing older sister that attempts to address the difficulties of family relations blah blah blah.

Casting decisions here were terrible. Memo: Gwyneth Paltrow no longer has the ability to play mopey 24 year olds. Not that she's an untalented's just it credible for a mid-30's-ish mother to play this kind of role? Perhaps John Madden was so enthralled with her performance in Sylvia that she thought she could really get her mope on in this film. And Jake Gyllenhaal is not smart enough in real-life to play someone smart on screen. Still, I wish I could quit him.

This is a movie that not even math dorks could love (though I imagine all kinds of dork fluids have been spilt by the mere thought of mathematicians that look like Gyllenhaal and Paltrow.)

Two textual references to support this point:

The emotional climax of the film: Robert / Hopkins barks to Catherine / Paltrow, "When are you going to do some mathematics with me?"

The key plot twist point: Hal / Gyllenhaal says to Catherine / Paltrow, "Your father couldn't have written this utilizes concepts developed in the 80's and 90's like communicative geometry...hence, you must have written it." By the way, I think that communicative geometry is the next hot thing in Communication generally. Perhaps we should apply to form an NCA Division for it.

There's also some poetry involving math, which is the one sweet part of the film.

The film's tagline: "The biggest risk in life is not taking one." Amendment: the biggest risk in life is watching the steaming piles of dung that inevitably result when trying to make math dramatic.

I recommend Yor, Hunter from the Future, instead.


Blogger cw noted on 3/26/2006 07:36:00 PM that...

I agree.  

Blogger paroske noted on 4/05/2006 06:13:00 PM that...

Hey, I like submarine movies.

C'mon man, Das Boot; Crimson Tide; Run Silent, Run Deep.

But math is very stinky.