Taking over the role of “mentor” detective, Lewis returns sans Morse after being widowed and taking a long holiday to drink a lot and forget. Once back in Oxford, he is partnered with a new sergeant (a little less naive than Lewis used to be with Morse, but still pretty green) and they begin protecting Oxford from all things nefarious. The one major difference here between this show and Morse is that the new assistant, Hathaway, is the more cultured, educated one…taking those reins from Morse. Lewis is once again, usually a step behind. So, even though he is Hathaway’s mentor, once could also say Hathaway teaches Lewis a lot too. Excellent stories and wonderful acting really round out this series as a winner. I thought for sure I would be lost without Morse. Yes, Oxford is different without the old guy, but Lewis is a more than capable replacement.
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Like Detective Inspector Jack Frost of the A Touch of Frost series, Chief Inspector Morse is grumpy. He’s what I would call a curmudgeon. But, somehow, we love him. He loves classical music…especially opera, drives his classic Jag, loves the ladies but is a confirmed bachelor, and most of all loves his beer. Along with his trusty and more passive sidekick, Detective Sgt. Lewis, Morse travels about the Oxford area solving crime and frequenting pubs. The crimes and cases are all top-notch…almost perfectly constructed. Each episode is filled with so much information and so many details that if you blink, you miss something. The chemistry between Morse and Lewis is strong…Lewis is less cultured and more agreeable and Morse is extremely set-in-his-ways. But, the two of them make a great crime-solving team. And, like some shows, Morse does not “instantly” solve the crime…like some shows that have the detective be almost psychic or superhuman with their investigating skills. Here, the cases are all solved methodically and with great effort. Sometimes, it’s nice to know that even a great detective gets stumped.
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.