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Weaving is spellbinding (FORGET Agent Smith of THE MATRIX) as a blind photographer who has this unshakeable belief that people lie to him because of his blindness. His world revolves around photographs that others must visually interpret for him. He has a housekeeper that wishes she could do more than housekeep and the day he meets Andy, a dishwasher at the local restaurant, is the first day of a new beginning...but for who?
Suffice to say, Crowe as Andy shows all the portents of future stardom simply by being Russell Crowe. He is superb without really doing anything. For just a three character film, this is spellbinding stuff (much like THE INTERVIEW).
No more need be divulged. I would simply say this is one of the best films I have ever seen. It deserved every award it won. This is a 10! See it!
It is definitely a small movie. But that's not a bad thing. Most people's lives are small, and this movie is a good example of how even small events -- especially small events -- can have a huge impact on a person's life.
The essential thing about the movie is not that it's about a blind guy. It's about a guy who is incapable (at the beginning, anyway) of trust. Which is why he must have "proof" of everything around him in the form of photographs (which he, paradoxically, cannot see himself, but must have described to him). By the end of the movie, he has grown enough, or become desperate enough, to try to trust Andy, and show him the most "most important photo I've ever taken."
Genevieve Picot, as the suffering, love stricken housekeeper of Martin, is great. I wish I could see more of her work.
This movie also has some really funny moments, and yes, the funniest line is "I forgot." The second funniest is "Brian." See the movie and you will understand (and laugh your ass off too).
One final note: SEE THIS MOVIE!!!!! (Also: make sure to watch on a TV with good sound. It's important for the ending (the last moment before the credits roll).)
Martin is a misanthropic blind man, whose unshakable mistrust of humanity compels him to compulsively take photographs of everything around him. So deeply-rooted is his paranoia that he believes his own mother rejected him because of his handicap, and so deceived him in her descriptions of the world. Martin took a picture--his first--of a garden his mother customarily described to him, as evidence that she had lied.
Martin's paranoia that anyone might be lying to him has shaped the rest of his life, growing up to become uncompromising and fiercely independent. He behaves callously in his only human interaction--with his rancorous housekeeper, Celia. Celia is obsessively, possessively in love with Martin. But their relationship is a prickly one, marked with cruelty and malice on both parts. Martin, aware of Celia's desire for him, uses the knowledge as a weapon--tormenting her by keeping her on, but rebuffing her attempts. In return, Celia spitefully rearranges the furniture so Martin will run into it and exploits his dependency on her to boost her own ego.
Years later, Martin is still a photographer, but now he wants someone he can trust to describe his first photo to him, thus giving him the 'proof' of a long-dead mother's love.
This someone happens to be Andy, a dishwasher at a local restaurant. But when Andy threatens to become too great an influence in Martin's life, Celia, feeling her territory has been violated, sets out to discredit Andy--using her sexuality to control both men.
"Proof" could all so easily have slipped into melodramatic theatrics, but the film skips nimbly along the line, managing to evade all potential traps. Most of the credit is due to the adroit, agile script and the outstanding performances from the cast.
Jocelyn Moorhouse, the film's director and writer, has the innate gift of comprehending, capturing, and conveying the human condition so aptly, so that the audience is deftly drawn into these characters' lives. The film doesn't rely on a contrived plot to induce interest; these ordinary characters are intrinsically fascinating simply because of who they are.
The acting is superb, making for a fabulous ensemble piece. Hugo Weaving renders a thoughtful performance as Martin, convincingly portraying a man who has closed himself off so effectively against the possibility that he might get hurt, that he has cut off the possibility of feeling. Genevieve Picot is likewise excellent, marvelously calculating, yet vulnerable as Celia. And Russel Crowe radiates an already unmistakable and irresistible charisma on-screen in this early role as Andy. His easy-going, honest, bloke-next-door charm is utterly appealing--a far cry from later roles in "L.A. Confidential" and "Gladiator", showing his incredible acting range.
This diabolically clever, enormously witty, and refreshingly original film can be hilariously funny at some times, genuinely heart-rending at others, and an all-round brilliant bit of cinema. Well-worth a look.
Proof is not a comedy. It is not even a black comedy (or black, BLACKEST comedy) though it has some moments that will make you laugh or smile broadly ("You killed ugly!"). It isn't a movie so heavy either that you'll feel like someone's been slapping you throughout the film either. It is very poignant, often surreal, but very, very intelligent. Proof is a very complex movie. In other words, you can't label the characters, 'evil' or 'good' and be done with it. You got to look deeper, and the actors subtly bring it out to an external medium and you'll see it. You just gotta remember to open your eyes.
Hugo Weaving was amazing here. In fact they were all good! Including the dog. Weaving really makes you think he's a blind person, and I almost thought for a second he was until I heard "Mr Anderson" ringing in my head again.
Proof is probably the movie that comes closest to reality in people's lives. And the drive-in scene is priceless.
He trusts Andy.
It hardly need be said that Andy, played with boyish charm and just the right amount of discovery by Russell Crowe, will both disappoint Martin and teach him a lesson. Martin certainly needs some kind of lesson. He exploits his housekeeper Celia's obsessive love for him, tormenting her by keeping her on, while denying her love as he inflicts little humiliations. For her part Celia, played with a penetrating and desperate sexuality by Geneviève Picot, mothers him and seeks to dominate. She wants to keep Martin dependant on her in the hope that someday he will seek her love. She controls his life, teaching the dog to prefer her and to come to her when signaled. In her frustration she plays little tricks on Martin, such as putting objects in his path so he will run into them. When Andy threatens to become important to Martin, predictably she seduces him. Thus we have our triangle. Andy also serves as an objectifying device to underscore the obsessions of Martin and Celia.
Jocelyn Moorhouse wrote and directed this original little masterpiece of dark humor from down under. She carefully worked out the character-driven story so that humor and tragedy are in balance and we experience the revelations from the perspective of all three characters. Nothing is fake or hackneyed and no one point of view is preferred. She has the gift of seeing more than one side of the human condition, and it is this gift that makes her scenes so effective. Note that the drive-in theater scene depends on our knowing what Martin is doing and why, while seeing his actions from the point of view of the bikers. He faces the bikers from the driver's seat in the next car and holds up a packet of prophylactics. The biker guy looks over and thinks that he is being taunted by a "fag."
I have seen Moorhouse's How to Make an American Quilt (1995), which also explored the underlying psychological motives of human beings, but this is a better film. It will be interesting to see what she does next.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
The main character, Martin (Hugo Weaving; flashback scenes from when he was perhaps eight or nine years old played by Jeffrey Walker) is blind from birth and, though it isn't really explained how, develops a distrust of people, including his Mother (Heather Mitchell). He starts taking pictures to prove that in fact he is experiencing what others say he is; as an adult, it becomes compulsive.
The problem in "proving" one's experiences in this way is that it relies on a sighted person to detail the pictures, and Martin finds such a trusted friend in Andy (Russell Crowe). Celia (Geneviève Picot) has an unhealthy relationship with Martin, frustrated as his housekeeper who loves him, but who gets only cruel coolness from Martin. In jealousy and anger, she attempts to disrupt the friendship that Martin and Andy have begun.
I liked this quite unique film that really doesn't fit any easy categories, except perhaps as a quirky low-key drama. It was very interesting to have a deep focus on just three characters (and just a few other minor ones, including the guide dog Bill).
To be a little critical, I found it a bit difficult to believe that Martin had such a seemingly unfounded distrust of people, as all of the flashbacks to his childhood seemed to show his Mother loving and not misleading her son. Celia's motivation for love after working for years as Martin's help and nothing more was a little difficult for me to understand. I really liked Andy, but didn't understand his motivation either to so quickly agree to be the photo interpreter and then dive into a friendship.
That said, "Proof" was a pleasure to watch. It was almost surreal in a sense, and quirkily fun to see the characters interact. The film dealt in an interesting way with the principles of honesty and trust. I would like to see the film again soon, and suspect it will be even more interesting in the second viewing.
--Dilip Barman, May 8, 2004
I knew little about either Hugo Weaving or Russell Crowe at the time and thought they were both very good in it, especially Weaving. Like most Australian movies it was filmed on a low budget, and on this occasion produced very good results.
If you enjoyed this for reasons other than the "Crowe Factor", you should try some other Aussie films.
Eg. Malcolm (It's An Unreal Movie)
Even with a running time of ~90 minutes, "Proof" can be very slow from time to time, but that's the way the Director wants the audience to feel for the protagonist. The way he feels things around him, the way he walks, the way he talks, his expressions, his unconvincing nature; Hugo Weaving gives the near-perfect performance of a blind man. Russell Crowe exhibits great flair playing a man torn between his friendship with Hugo Weaving and his love life with Genevieve Picot.
The best thing about this movie is its unique script and the way the story unfolds due to small lies and betrayal. The way every character is torn between two aspects of their life is beautifully captured by the Director. The ending is very good and the flash backs of Hugo's childhood are placed appropriately placed throughout the movie, helping to delve deeper into Hugo's character.
Overall, watch this movie, as it offers a unique movie experience. To see two great actors initial movie work is sure to delight a lot of people.
My Verdict: 8/10
Martin, the main character, is a blind man who uses a camera and pictures as his "eyes," trusting the character of Andy to faithfully describe these pictures so that Martin can "see" them. However, trust doesn't come easily to Martin, who doubts many people in his life including his housekeeper, Celia, who is madly in love with him, and even his own Mother, who through flashbacks we see was never really trusted. Martin giving his trust to Andy, someone he barely knows, makes Celia angry and sets off a chain of events.
The story evolves from there, each scene an important piece of the puzzle (which is refreshing, no scenes are put there just to be there). The main theme of this movie is the element of trust, which Martin seems to lack, Andy seems eager to give, and Celia wants to receive.
Looking at Martin as a person, not as a blind man, makes this movie all the more rich. Martin is easily related to - Trusting someone and expecting honesty is something we all want. Similarly, Martin wants control of his life (and is by all means capable of it), but he still has that element of vulnerability, despite how much he tries to deny it. Martin must also accept the fact that people are not always perfect. They lie sometimes, and sometimes that's okay.
All in all, this movie is amazingly crafted, well written, and funny.
The plot of Proof is simple: A blind photographer (Martin) is obsessed with taking pictures to prove that what he senses it the truth. Numerous flashbacks of Martin's childhood indicate that his mother may have lied to him repeatedly. This is the emotional root of his pathological distrust of everyone. As a child, Martin's first photo reveals definitively whether his mother was in fact lying. Now, he must find someone he can trust to describe it for him.
Martin's life revolves around two other characters (well, three if you include Bill, the canine). First, Celia is his pernicious housekeeper with an obsessive love for Martin. The relationship operates in a vicious circle; Martin knows of Celia's feelings and uses this as a weapon to torment Celia. Celia resents this and vindictively torments Martin. This circle is the source of some fascinating dark humor. Later, Martin forms a friendship with Andy. Seemingly honest and forthright, Andy describes Martin's photos for him. Celia feels threatened by Andy, feeling that her territory (Martin) is being violated. Celia uses her sexuality to manipulate Andy to lie to Martin. Celia subsequently reveals Andy's lie to Martin in an attempt to destroy their friendship. In the final scene, Andy describes Martin's first photo for him (like Martin, we never actually see it).
The simple plot and limited number of characters allow Martin, Celia, and Andy to develop a triangle of emotional depth and resonance. Proof is psychologically complex and multi-faceted, requiring undivided attention. It is about the fragility of true friendship, betrayal, obsession, forgiveness and ultimately accepting the indefinite nature of truth. Proof evokes a full spectrum emotions, often being simultaneously comical and sad.
Though writer/director Moorhouse uses elements from other filmmakers (most notably, Hitchcock), Proof is like no other film I have ever seen. Such an usual story could have easily slipped into melodramatic theatrics, but the writing is supple and the characters are played with perfect balance by outstanding actors (Russell Crowe garnered critical acclaim in this film well before he became popular). Viewers with patience and commitment will have difficulty finding a more emotionally rewarding film experience.
[Note: I'd be happy to discuss (no petty insults) this film with anyone. Please feel free to e-mail me any comments.]
Weaving does a pretty good job at his character, and you can definitely get the sense of his character's dry wit. The tension between him and Celia is one I find very awkward, especially as Celia is always coming on to him. In this way, Picot does a great job with her character, depicting someone whose whole world is centred on this one person. I also enjoy the way she would randomly disrupt furniture pieces so that Martin would bump into them later. It's just so unnecessary and done out of spite that makes it laugh out loud worthy. Crowe as well does great, and his relationship with Weaving is well elaborated and depicted. There are essentially the three characters of this film, and they all interweave in each other's life in drastic ways, producing sound character development.
However, the film moves at quite a slow pace, and there are countless scenes in which the characters just stare at each other in silence- or in Martin's case, sit in silence. This somewhat adds intensity to the film (dark humour), and at the same time makes it uncomfortable and awkward to watch.
The story is well told, and the editing, cinematography and directing all nicely come together. The set designs - especially of Celia's apartment, tells a lot of the character. I wish there would have been more to Martin's place that could have depicted more of who his character was. His dog is cute, and its disappearance on daily walks for a few minutes is the main mystery Martin wishes to solve.
Overall, the film definitely tells an interesting story, but is a little weird. I wouldn't watch it again, or outright recommend it for others to watch.
Celia (Geneviève Picot) is Martin's housekeeper and the relationship between Martin and Celia is the central focus of the movie. We don't get too far into it before we realize that Celia is deeply in love with Martin, a love that he does not reciprocate. This situation seems to be agreeable to both parties--in fact they appear to get a thrill out of thwarting each other. For example, Celia moves objects around the house just so Martin will crash into them.
The game that Martin and Celia are playing is thrown off center when Andy (a young Russell Crowe) befriends Martin, and that is when things get interesting. Andy finds Martin's hobby curious and is happy to describe the photos for him. How Celia uses her sexuality to deal with her jealousy, how Martin uses his photos to deal with his trust problems, and how poor, innocent Andy deals with being sucked into the vortex of this battle of wills is what makes the movie engaging. It reminds me of how the innocent young professor and his wife were pulled into the private war that George and Martha were fighting in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
I had a little problem with the casting. It was hard to see what Celia found in Martin that would create an obsessive love, but I suppose in the area of sex and love anything is possible. And it was difficult for me to believe that the eminently handsome and likable Andy could have been alone in the world, so alone as to befriend Martin.
Juxtaposed with the blind photographer having his life recorded in a series of snapshots (that others have to describe to him), is this story being revealed largely through visuals - because he is blind the dialog often has little to do with the activity that is going on around him. We learn more from the non verbal than the verbal. He doesn't have that luxury.
His deadpan (because he has no idea what's going on) is priceless.
*Spoiler* - For example, when he is at the housekeeper's house surrounded by photos of himself - We are dumbstruck; he is clueless. His lack of reaction makes the evidence of her obsession all the more creepy.
In the end, the movie is about trust, and about the risk we take when we trust other people. And about the isolation that we face when we don't.
Was (blind) Martin's mother lying when she described an unremarkable scene at the bottom of the garden when he was a child? "Why would I lie to you?" she asks, "because you can" he replies. It's an incredibly simple premise but it forms the basis for a wonderfully subtle and engaging film.
Because of his vulnerability, Martin creates an emotional carapace to protect himself. He takes photos as "proof" and asks sighted people to describe them to him.
When he suffers a real, as opposed to imagined, betrayal he learns the freedom of forgiveness and can finally begin to trust.
The final short scene is perhaps the best end to a film ever - wordlessly summing up the entire 90 minutes that precedes it.
"Proof" is a "three-hander" that you may think was adapted from a play, but is actually an original screenplay, by Jocelyn Moorhouse who also directs. The film revolves around a lonely, isolated blind man (Weaving) whose only outlet is, oddly, photography. His housekeeper (Genevieve Picot) abuses the power that she has over him due to his disability. She then becomes threatened by his new friendship with a kitchen hand (Crowe). As the twisted love triangle (of sorts) plays out, flashbacks show us how a blind boy's sad childhood led to an obsession with truth and a reluctance to trust.
This is a beautiful film that I enjoy more and more each time I watch it, thanks to a brilliant script, and great performances by all three leading actors.