More about genetics than math (namely, is repressed brainiac Catherine as ingenious, and insane, as her dead dad?), Proof works because it adds layers of pathos and suspense to its square roots. While the dialogue can be shamelessly stagy (makes sense, since this began as a play), it’s often as elegant as the formulas discussed. And a pale, fiery Gwyneth Paltrow — director John Madden’s muse in the London stage version — seems to believe every word. In the final act, father and daughter huddle in the snow, caught up in method and madness. They’re not the only ones who get the chills.
EXTRAS ‘Rithmetic was no easy feat for the cast: ”I was the worst math student in high school,” admits Jake Gyllenhaal in ”From Page to Screen,” adding that Anthony Hopkins studied Math for Dummies to pump up his performance. Want more homework, Tony? Listen to Madden’s overly academic commentary, a mini-lecture on character motivation and cinematic techniques that leaves little to the imagination. The Shakespeare in Love helmer even compares Hopkins’ ”commanding” yet ”childlike” Robert to King Lear.