When young rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) becomes involved in a case that requires the assistance of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), she quickly finds herself in over her head. Clarice is assigned to the case of a serial murderer who calls himself Buffalo Bill. In order to track down Buffalo Bill, Clarice needs to talk with Dr. Lecter, a psychiatrist turned cannibal, who is serving a life sentence for his crimes. Dr. Lecter might hold the key in unlocking the identity of Buffalo Bill, but in exchange for information, Clarice has to give up some of her past secrets to him. The crimes and horror of this film are not what makes this a stellar movie, but rather it’s the intense psychological battle that is fought between Clarice and Dr. Lecter that adds to the perfect combination of fear and tension to this film. Ms. Foster’s performance as the inexperienced, innocent agent who is not emotionally ready to take on the evilness of Dr. Lecter is right on target. The audience can see the terror in her eyes as she does her best to stare down Dr. Lecter. Mr. Hopkins, though, steals the show with his cunning and tense portrayal of the intelligent, shrewd killer. Dr. Lecter plays a game with Clarice as he tries to weed secrets out of her. Both performances were honored with Academy Awards, and when you watch the film, you will most definitely see why. In addition to Academy Awards for acting, the film, directed by Jonathan Demme, won Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay (based on the novel by Thomas Harris).

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Right off the top, let me just say I know little to nothing about math. And even though the main characters in this film are math geniuses, my lack of knowledge did not hinder me from liking this film. Math is only the background…the basis of this film, not the plot. In a nutshell, it’s a story of a daughter who just lost her father. Add to that the father was a math genius…but also insane (later in life). Add that the daughter is also a math prodigy and fears following her father’s footsteps down the path of mental illness. Yes, it’s a heavy subject but the film moves along pretty quickly through all of it…no, it’s not a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat film but what film about math geniuses is? Based on a successful stage play, this is a drama…a dark drama about family relationships and personal soul-searching. The stand out thing about Proof is Gwyneth Paltrow’s performance. To me, this is by far her best acting work. She is emotional without being too over the top and she’s sorrowful without being too sappy. There are several scenes where there are intense close-ups of her face…and just through the look in her eyes and her facial expression, she tells the audience everything we need to know about her character’s state of mind at that very second. A very powerful performance to top off a strong and meaningful film.

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