Genre: Drama, Romance
Director/Writer: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Music: Not Drowning, Waving
Cinematography: Martin McGrath
Australian filmmaker Jocelyn Moorhouse’s feature debut, PROOF is a delectable charmer postulates a seeming oxymoron, our protagonist Martin (Weaving) is a 32-year-old blind shutterbug, who takes pictures as a proof of the truth in the world around him, which he is shorn of the ability to see.
Martin has a caretaker, Celia (Picot), a woman edging 30 (“when a girl reaches 30, she becomes a woman inevitably”), but their relationship is not at all salutary, it touches on a borderline sado-masochistic conflict (mentally rather than physically), slowly we will grasp that Celia has developed an infatuation towards Martin through the years, which never comes to fruition, to which Martin is alert, but he guilefully trades on her feelings as a leverage over their inimical tug-of-war, as he owns up to his new-found friends Andy (Crowe), it is a way to feel pity for her, instead of being pitied, that’s the crux of Martin’s fix, indeed, pandemic among the disabled, their whole life is beset with self-pity and low-esteem, really, extraneous commiserations could only be attributed as a burden too huge to bear. So, it is the quotidian dueling process keeps Martin alive, not subjugated to the eternal darkness and disillusion, however unsavoury the consequence might taste, for both parties.
Now, he meets Andy, a 20-something busboy, who is the opposite of Celia, non-scheming, personable and upfront, Martin enjoys his companion, especially when he needs Andy to describe the contents of his pictures to him. They buddy up through a rowdy drive-in experience, where Martin cunningly plays a practical joke of his blindness to exonerate themselves from a fender bender, but to Celia, the advent of Andy is a blatant threat to their usual two-hander equilibrium, after another desperate attempt to get intimate with Martin goes rebuffed, she decides to sabotage the male rapport and break off their bond of trust by luring the impressionable Andy under her charm.
“Trust”, is the matter-in-question of Moorhouse’s vigorous debut, through the episodic flashback woven into the otherwise chronically navigated narrative, we see Martin as a young boy (Walker), constantly questions his mother’s (Mitchell) account of his favorite garden, a pervading sense of insecurity and perplex, or being offered lies instead of truth by the sighted due to his disability. Accentuated by Moorhouse’s insightful script and sensitive directorial tack, the film incredibly rings true of a blind person’s predicament, which is also vastly facilitated by Hugo Weaving’s transfixing tour-de-force, a relentlessly honest take on Martin’s psyche while on the facade, a top-shelf emulation of sightless bearing, plus it is Agent Smith in his trademark dark glasses, how can one not dig it?
Equally absorbing is Picot’s embodiment of Celia, quite a rebarbative intrigante through and through, but in a weird way, at the end of the day, we cannot help but feeling sorry for her, driven by an unrequited affection, we can all sense the vicarious pain, which makes every step of her move deeply human until the master relinquishes his leash. Inspiringly, Moorhouse doesn’t temper the female role with lenience, and Ms. Picot fleshes out a viscerally embattled soul with delicious temerity and moxie (not to mention the requisite bravado of nudity). In a brighter note, Russell Crowe surpasses one’s expectation to bring about an endearing, spontaneous and heartwarming appearance into an ostensibly open-faced role, which could have been easily eclipsed by his co-stars proffered with more complex fodder, it is also sensible for Moorhouse to leave the elephant-in-the-room as a moot point since Martin’s sexuality shouldn’t be pigeonholed as a Freudian impetus to his conducts, the story is all about “trust”, and more precisely, “trust without proof”, we all have foibles, but it shouldn’t obstruct our trust-bonding, fair and simple, it is sheer delightful to chance upon this quirky Aussie gem with a woman in the driving seat!