9 May 2004 | Dilip
Unique, low-key, quirky fun that defies an easy classification; it's all about "proof" of experience and reliance on each other's honesty
I just watched on video "Proof", a 1991 film from Australia that seemed like it would be a comedy about a blind man who takes pictures to "prove" the experiences he has had in life. This film was many things - unique, subtle, intriguing, and a very interesting look at the psychology of human interaction - but I fail to see how it was a "comedy", not that that at all detracts from this good film!
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