1992, R, 91 min. Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse. Starring Hugo Weaving, Genevieve Picot, Russell Crowe, Heather Mitchell.
REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., June 12, 1992
A blind photographer takes pictures and asks other people to describe them for him – the hook is charming and better yet, the movie follows through. Blind since birth, Martin (Weaving) relies on other people to describe what's in the pictures he takes. It's his proof that they are seeing what they say they're seeing and the manifestation of his inability to trust other people. The photographs of leaves, off center shots of people, corner pieces of architecture, a knothole in a tree seem to have a meaning by virtue of being held up for examination. Yet they don't, or at least they have no more than any bit of random observation. It's all a matter of perception; it's all a matter of context and that's where Martin's real lack is – he's an absolutist. He meets and makes friends with a charming and feckless busboy, Andy (Crowe) and discovers real friendship, but it's a friendship he makes almost impossible to maintain by saying “you must never lie to me.” In surprise, Andy asks, “Why would I lie to you?” But telling the truth just isn't as easy as Andy at first believes. Martin is funny in his punctiliousness, in his reserve. He's a perfect foil for the outgoing and brash Andy. At home, he and his housekeeper, Celia (Picot), engage in a perverse war of sexual longing and denial. She wants him, and he despises her. Here Martin's rigidity and inability to trust create an almost poisonous atmosphere, especially when coupled with the enjoyment he derives from maintaining the balance of power in their relationship. While primarily a sweet and slightly sad story, Proof has its delightful moments of black humor. In some ways Martin is an alien in his own world. His perceptions are filtered by his inability to see and also by the inability of others to understand that he's reacting to his world differently than they do. In one hilarious scene he enrages a bunch of toughs at a drive-in by staring sightlessly at their car. He's blind, he doesn't need to look at the screen, but they don't know< that. Proof/i> works well because Australian director Moorehouse keeps her story simple and relies heavily on the obvious subtext to do her work for her. No one is going to see a blind man on the screen and not start thinking about the illusory nature of perception. Proof makes it a productive line of thought.