This particular movie sent me through myriad emotions. For instance, I love Anthony Hopkins and have been a Jake Gyllenhaal fan since Donnie Darko, so their specific performances I very much enjoyed.
Gwyneth Paltrow has always been kind of hit and miss for me, and, as par for the course, she was hit and miss for me in this film as well.
Let me give you a quick summary of the film without spoiling anything. Hopkins plays a man who was at one time a preeminent mathematician. He completed his greatest work all before the age of 26 and since then has slowly been suffering from mental problems. As an old man, his daughter, played by Paltrow, is forced to care for him, dropping out of college in order to do so.
Hopkins dies before the film even starts but we’re treated to him through many difference scenarios in which I will not go into. However, one of his students played by Gyllenhaal takes it upon himself to search through Hopkins’ old notes for any slivers of lucidity. He does indeed find a notebook filled with the work of a certifiable genius, but when Paltrow claims the work is hers, things get very interesting.
Hope Davis plays Paltrow’s sister and believes Paltrow is suffering from the same dementia that plagued her father. Paltrow doesn’t know what to believe, nor does Gyllenhaal.
This story is wrought with emotional edginess. In fact, at times it became very uncomfortable as Paltrow and Davis’ characters yelled and screamed at each other as completely opposite siblings. Moreover, Paltrow spent a great part of the movie being quite unlikable. While I appreciate her effort at playing against type, it still didn’t totally work for me.
However, that being said, I did have a nice time watching the movie, especially because, as with A Beautiful Mind and Good Will Hunting, I never thought a film utilizing mathematics as a plot device would pique my interest. I recommend giving this film a try.