Has Gwyneth Paltrow's moment passed? I don’t personally wish her any ill will – she seems like an inoffensive enough woman, macrobiotic mania aside – but her stardom to me seems like an irretrievably 90s phenomena, like Friends, or Lollapalooza, or, well, the Weinstein-powered monster that used to be Miramax, the studio whose closet the latest Paltrow film, Proof, has been collecting dust in for quite awhile. And if there’s anything tangibly wrong with the film (beyond the fact that it takes a bundle of potentially devastating ideas and dulls them down to the potency of a glass of warm strawberry milk), it's that the dust shows. The moment that its various elements work to describe feels like a blurry time capsule of recent history, seeming variously like the product of ten different Oscar seasons uncomfortably muddled together.
It's also a Serious Film About Geniuses, the kind that our anthropomorphized friend Oscar is rumored to love, and it works the cliches of that genre to the hilt. But there's something curiously hollow here: Proof's brainiacs furrow their brows to the correct degree whilst scribbling furiously in composition books, but that's about all they've got when it comes to conveying the mania that makes them want to make a living solving math problems. It's genius without passion, which essentially makes it lifestyle porn for nerd fetishists.