While The Crossing was Russell Crowe's first official lead role, most Crowe fans are probably more familiar with his role in a little film entitled Proof, his third film in which he co-starred along side fellow Aussie actor Hugo Weaving. Proof is an interesting film with an intriguing group of seemingly disturbed characters.
Proof stars Hugo Weaving as Martin a man whose been blind since childhood. Martin has a unique hobby, he's a photographer. One might think a blind photographer is the epitome of an oxymoron but in Martin's case it's his passion; taking photographs and labeling them with brief descriptions that people give him about each photo. But this passion is not simply a hobby it's Martin's way of dealing with trust issues that stem from his childhood. Martin always felt his mother never really cared for him because he wasn't a normal child, and he always felt that during their daily ritual of her describing to him the outside world that she was lying to him, simply because she could. This sparked Martin's interest for photography, his first picture being the garden his mother would described to him, hoping he'd finally have proof that she was lying to him. Also it provided him with proof what he sensed in everyday life was what people saw.
Grown up Martin's adult life isn't much more pleasant than his childhood, he spends most of his time alone, or in the presence of his housekeeper Celia. Celia is infatuated with Martin for some strange reason, yet he finds her to be vile and constantly rejects her advances. The only reason he keeps her around is that in denying her what see wants it restricts her from feeling pity for him and allows him to pity her. While Martin disrespectful to Celia, she is quite the vile human being, as he puts it. Whether it's purely her nature or a product of Martin's treatment towards her, it is a mystery. But her obsession with Martin is stalker like, and she proves on multiple occassions she'll do whatever she has to do to get what she wants.
Russell Crowe plays Andy, a dishwasher in a little Italian restaurant who first meets Martin when he nearly kills a local alley cat Andy has nicknamed Ugly. Martin and Andy take the cat to the vet where Andy first discovers Martin's bizarre hobby of photography. Martin returns the restaurant the next day and asks Andy to describe his photos to him, Martin likes Andy's style of description calling it "simple, direct, honest", so begins an unusual friendship of Andy describing the world to Martin through his own photographs. But the film soon begins to take a more dramatic path as Celia's jealousy of Andy's friendship with Martin, Andy's infatuation with Celia, and Martin's high expectations that all people must tell the truth, starts to turn all their lives upside down. In these experiences Martin finally learns an important lesson about life, and discovers the truth about the childhood baggage he's been carrying around his entire life.
For me Proof is one of those films that starts off fantastic and then gradually degrades to mediocre. The first half of the film is a must see, focusing on the friendship between Martin and Andy, it's witty, it's interesting, it's highly entertaining. The second half of the film throws Celia into the mix as she uses Andy as a pawn to have her way with Martin. The whole Celia and Andy "relationship" was extremely odd, while it's clear she has no feelings for him, I honestly can't understand why he as feelings for her, especially when he described her as "plain" and "okay looking" to Martin when shown her picture, and then witnesses how she toys with Martin when he's in the park by holding his dog back when he's calling for him. I simply could not grasp Andy's infatuation with her, and most of the time it seemed just a false as Celia's disguised love for him.
Aside from that the last half of the film simply isn't as interesting as the first, the characters of Celia and Andy aren't developed much at all, each character recites a few lines which serves as a brief character background but other than that their motivation for why they behave as they do is never extremely clear, unlike Martin's. Still all the actors give good performances, Crowe is by far the most enjoyable and it's the humorous scenes between Hugo and himself that are the most enjoyable and where he truly shines. Overall, Proof is a film worth checking out and should be enjoyable for any Crowe fan, or fans of dark comedies. Had the second half been as solid as the first I'd be loving this, but it's execution of a more dramatic second act ultimately left me a little unenthusiastic.