The daughter of a brilliant but mentally disturbed mathematician (recently deceased) tries to come to grips with her possible inheritance his insanity. Complicating matters are one of her fathers ex-students who wants to search through his papers and her estranged sister who shows up to help settle his affairs.
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It certainly isn't necessary to be well-versed in mathematics to enjoythis movie, but it does help, if only to identify with thepersonalities that inhabit this most arcane "science." This story istold in the "present" and via flashbacks, and the editing facilitatesit very nicely. In the present, in Chicago, the mathematician andfather Robert (Anthony Hopkins) has just died, his at-home daughterCatherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) prepares for the arrival from NY of hersomewhat estranged older sister Claire (Hope Davis). The sisters alwaysseem to be at odds, and this is magnified several times when Catherinefinds out that Claire is also planning on selling the family residenceright away, at the same time hoping to convince Catherine to move to NYwith her. See, Robert did his ground-breaking work in his early 20s andshortly thereafter began to go mad, spending the last 40-odd years ofhis life scribbling nonsense in notebooks. Claire is afraid her sisteris following in dad's mental steps.Jake Gyllenhaal is a 20-something mathematics post-graduate Hal whounderstands Robert's contributions, and seems to have come to acceptthat he (and most others) will never have a hope of contributing atthat very high level. But he is both romantically attracted toCatherine, and also realizes she may have inherited Robert's gift forground-breaking mathematics. He wants to help her realize that too. This movie is not about mathematics, it isn't really about Robert. Itis about Catherine, afraid she is becoming mad like her dad, but alsorealizing that she may have talents that she must develop. In a greatsense, the future of our world depends on the occasional genius comingup with striking advances, so what happens if one of them "breaks thechain" and refuses to use their gift? Catherine is torn betweenretreating, giving up, and letting herself go insane without struggle.But is that her path? Maybe she only inherited the genius, and will NOTgo insane. The movie is about her inner struggle to cope with bothpossibilities.May 2009 edit: Saw it again last night, it was as good and fresh aswhen I watched it 3 years ago. Good movie.SPOILERS FOLLOW. In the heat of the sister/sister friction after thefuneral services, and when Catherine is talking to Hal, who had beengoing through the 103 notebooks of gibberish Robert had written,looking for a spark of genius, Catherine gave him a key to an upstairsdesk. In it he found one notebook which contained an elegant "proof" ofa long-standing problem regarding prime numbers. Catherine said shewrote it, but Claire doesn't think she is capable. Hal says thehandwriting looks like Robert's. He has two groups of mathematiciansexamine it and, while they didn't grasp all the transformations, theycould NOT find anything wrong with it. A flashback shows us, theaudience, that Robert could not have written it, indeed it wasCathernie's. On the verge of leaving for NY with her sister, thatflashback in her mind made her go back, and the movie ends with herback on campus, willing to explore her mathematical mind. As Hal says,he can't prove she won't go mad eventually, but he also can't prove shewill. So she might as well work as if she will not!
I had a psychiatry professor in medical school who advised us about recognizing depression in our patients. "If you start to feel depressed being around them, then they probably have depression", we were told. A different psychiatry professor gave us a lecture on the sometimes grey area that exists between "genius" and mental illness. For example, he proposed, if modern miracle anti-depressant medications like Prozac were available, would you have treated Van Gogh - preventing him from disfiguring and ultimately killing himself, IF you knew that by treating his "illness" you might also be depriving him (and the world) of his "genius".That is a good question that has no definitive answer. This film explores that nebulous area `twixt genius and madness. It also looks at relationships, trust and "love" between father and daughter, between sisters and between lovers. The reason I began this review discussing how it can make you feel depressed being in the company of depressed people is that watching this movie made me feel a little depressed.Gwyneth Paltrow stars in David Auburn's script, adapted from his play, as Anthony Hopkins' daughter, Catherine. Hopkins' Robert was a math genius, twice making "life-time achievement" kind of discoveries in the field before age 27, at which time he began to become ill with a mental illness that caused him to deteriorate until his death many years later. Much of the film is told in flashback. Catherine took care of Robert for his last half-decade. Did she do it out of daughterly duty? Did she do it to be near her father's mathematical genius as she was working out her own mathematical proofs? Did she do it to avoid moving forward with her own life and academic career? The film suggests perhaps all three, and leaves the viewer to your own conclusions. Jake Gyllenhaal portrays Hal, one of Robert's graduate students, smart enough to understand the high world of mathematic academics, but not quite genius enough to make the kind of revolutionary breakthroughs that make you legend. After Robert passes away Hal asks permission to read through Robert's copious notebooks where he scribbled down page after page of gibberish, hoping that a spark of genius will appear amid the mad scribbling. Hope Davis appears as Robert's other daughter, Claire. Although Catherine may have inherited some of Dad's genius, Claire is the one who seems to have her life in more order - for the kind of folks who think lives should be orderly. Claire flies into town for Robert's funeral as well, hoping to interject some order into Catherine's life.The film does not delve into deeper mathematics. Rudimentary arithmetic is not required to view "Proof". The movie looks at the lives of these people and presents the characters "as is". We see that Hal also plays drum in an alternative rock band made up of math grad students. One of their pieces is called "I" after the imaginary number that equals negative one when squared - this song consists of the band standing silently on stage after telling the audience the name of the song. If you're the kind of person who might find such things entertaining - this may be the film for you.The storyline concentrates on Catherine and explores whether or not she may have inherited her father's genius, or his madness, or both. Although the film is filled with the fine acting you'd expect from a collection of Academy Award winners and nominees, it was not the most pleasant thing for me to watch.
This movie successfully transitions a great play into a great movie. There are three keys to this success: a beautiful script, an incredibly gifted lead actress, and a director who knows how to sustain the energy of a film from scene to scene, beginning to end. Other reviews have outlined the story, so I won't waste space with another rehash. Besides, the story line is not the essence of the movie. Paltrow gives her best performance of her career, and that is saying something. The story itself catches a whiff of doing mathematics, which is a pretty difficult thing to put on the screen. I especially liked the way Jake Gyllenhaal's character wavered between the obvious fact that Katherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) really had proven the stunning result that the movie revolves around and his obvious ambition to prove his own mettle as a budding mathematician. Mathematicians are at once extremely collegial and extremely ambitious. The script and Gyllenhaal's execution hit just the right tone. Since this is the 58th review of this movie here at Amazon, I won't stretch this out. Know that this fine movie has been carefully transferred to the DVD medium. The film is intense, lean, crackling with energy, fast, endearing -- it made me love mathematics all over again.
This movie starts from the precise (they keep telling us so in thewhole movie) that a mathematician must give his best work before thirty(to be precise 25/26).It's talking nonsense:Andrew Wiles was aboutforty when he proved ,in 1993,the Fermat's theorem.On the other handit's nice to hear about Sophie Germain who had to take a male pseudonymto carry out research into the prime numbers in her native France ofthe nineteenth century.Because,as in almost all the movies dealing withmathematics ("Cube" "Contact" or "habitacion De Fermat") it's alwaysthe prime numbers which seem to fascinate the screenwriters .Gwyneth Paltrow gives a tormented complex performance and she sharesexcellent scenes (flashbacks) with father Hopkins who is still working(but is he still doing maths?)Hope David gives good support as herdown-to-earth materialistic sister but Jake Gillenhaal does not: asusers have already pointed out,it is impossible to believe he's amathematician (and a musician?the best moment of the band is their "i",a tribute to imaginary numbers or to Hopkins' work or both).
Proof is the beginning of a story. It's useful to compare it to thefirst half hour of A Beautiful Mind; consider it background forsomething else.A genius professional mathematician goes out of his mind and is caredfor by a loving family member. There's one little bit more of storyline and that's it.The movie is all anticipation, and then ... nothing.The little that is told, is told beautifully and professionally. Theactors/actresses do a good job, as do the production team. But theresimply isn't a story to be told here. It reminds me of Postcard Fromthe Edge, except it's even lighter.
This review is from: Proof (DVD) Well acted and an engaging story. It was easy to identify with each of the characters and to empathize with their respective positions.
Proof is an absolutely wonderful drama. The acting is also top notch. Its a smart drama with unexpected twists that really pulls at your heart stings. I highly recommend it to everyone out there, this is definetly one of my favorite movies out there!
"Proof", the excellent play by David Auburn, was one of the best thingsin the New York stage in recent memory. Part of the attraction was theintelligent subject matter, math science, and how it connected the fourcharacters one got to meet. The casting was an ideal one, Mary LouiseParker, Larry Briggman, Johanna Day and Ben Shenkman, playingCahterine, Robert, Claire and Hal, respectively.Mr. Auburn and Rebecca Miller, a movie director, herself, took the taskof adapting "Proof" for the screen. The result, directed by JohnMadden, opens the play in cinematic terms, no small undertaking inpresenting the movie to a wider audience who might not be interested inscience, and much less in the advanced math that plays an importantrole in the proceedings.If you haven't seen the film, please stop reading here.Catherine, the 27 year old, at the center of the film, is a woman whohas stayed behind to take care of her aging father, a man much esteemedin academic circles, who is suffering from, perhaps, a neurologicalillness that is killing him slowly. Catherine has, in a way, sacrificedher life in order to see that Robert spends his last days at homeinstead of at an institution.The death of the father brings Claire home. This woman, who lives inNew York, wants to get rid of everything connected with her father. Sheeven has made plans for Catherine to move from Chicago to be near eachother in New York, where things are much better. To complicate things,Harold, the nerdy math student, finds a hidden notebook that mightcontain a discovery that will revolutionize math. The only problem isthe proof might not have been the dead man's own creation."Proof" works as a film because of Mr. Madden's direction. We are keptinvolved in what is going on because we have been won by Catherine, thewounded woman trying to live her life without having to tend to a sickman. Catherine love for math, in a way, makes her realize her place isin the same institution where her father made mathematical discoveriesas she will be following his steps.Gwyneth Paltrow makes an excellent Catherine, a role she had played onthe London stage. Ms. Paltrow is a welcome presence in the moviebecause of the intelligence she projects when working with a gooddirector like John Madden. In fact, it has been a while since we sawthis actress in a film.Hope Davis, another excellent actress, plays Claire, the materialisticsister who has arrived and who wants to transform the frumpy Catherineand mold her to her own taste. Ms. Davis has accustomed us to expect avaluable contribution to any film in which she plays. As Claire, sheclearly understand who this character she is portraying really is.Anthony Hopkins has only a few good moments on the screen. JakeGyllenhaal's character Harold is not as effective as Ben Shenkman's wason the stage. In fact, Mr. Gyllenhaal, with his dark good looks, seemsto be someone who would not be interested in math at all."Proof" is an immensely rewarding film thanks to what John Madden'svision.
"Proof": had to be one of the worst movies ever to come out ofHollywood or wherever. Unless you are excited by the chance of seeingpsychotic mathematicians fighting with each other, then save your $7.50and go get a root canal instead. That would be more enjoyable thansitting through this mess. Even a fine performance by a "dead" AnthonyHopkins couldn't save this movie from causing you to squirm in yourseat and get up to stretch your legs every 10 minutes or so. "Proof"seemed to rob some ideas from "A Beautiful Mind" but it had none of thedrama or character interest of that movie. I found myself muttering"Who cares", every time something happened to one of it's characters. Ieven had the misfortune of missing the "great sex scene" my girlfriendtold me about when I returned from one of my bathroom excursions. So ifyou insist on seeing "Proof", take a bottle of 80 Proof into thetheatre, finish it off, and take a long snooze. You'll thank me for theadvice.
I have never been a big fan of Gwyneth Paltrow because as an actress Ihave always thought she was over-rated. I felt that she did an averagejob in every movie she was in. I did not think she was worthy of theAcademy Award she received for her role in the movie Shakespeare inLove. However, after watching Proof, I certainly hope that she getsanother nomination for an Academy Award because she deserves it fordoing a fantastic job of portraying an unstable woman.Proof is about Catherine, played by Gwyneth Paltrow (Sylvia,) who hastaken care of her father until he dies of heart failure. Her father,Robert, played by Sir Anthony Hopkins (Alexander,) was a mathematicianwho created many mathematical proofs before he was 22 years old, butstarted to lose his mind at the age of 27. Catherine is concerned thatshe not only inherited her father's genius for math, but that she hasinherited his madness and is uncertain of her future as she buries herfather on her 27 birthday.This movie was incredible from beginning to end. Every one acted well,especially Paltrow. From the opening scene, Paltrow portrayed atroubled woman. Her movements, expressions, and speech, were allmagnificently delivered by Paltrow and at no time did you know for sureif she was beginning to go insane or if it was her own paranoiacreating her self doubt.Actress Hope Davis (American Splendor) did a great job as Claire,Catherine's no non-sense sister who believes that her younger sisterhas inherited her father's sickness. She was perfect in her role inthat every time Catherine was fighting the belief that she was sick,Claire was right there enforcing the belief that she was sick. It wasclear also that Claire was offering to "help" Catherine more for Clairesake than Catherine's. She had a life to her own and did not want tohave to come back out to Chicago, where Catherine and her father lived,every time her little sister had an episode. Davis did a wonderful job.Both of the male actors in the movie, Hopkins, and Jake Gyllenhaal (TheDay After Tomorrow,) did a fine job acting. Hopkins did his standardimpressive performance as a man who goes insane. As I said Gyllenhaaldid a fine job, but I felt that any decent actor could have done hispart. I will say that his character was written the weakest of the fourand yet he still pulled it off quite well.The movie was based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play by David Auburn,who also co-wrote the screenplay with Rebecca Miller, and is amazing.The story is engaging from beginning to end and I love how theyintroduce the character of Robert in the beginning of the movie,talking to Catherine, as if he is alive, and then he answers one ofCatherine's questions by telling her he has been dead for a week. Thereare many scenes between father and daughter that are powerful. Myfavorite scene is when Catherine has come home from NorthwesternUniversity because she has not been able to get a hold of Robert shediscovers that he is outside in the snow, working on math.One scene I did not like is during the party after the funeral, Hal(Gyllenhaal) ended up having sex with Catherine, earning her trust andessentially the lynch pin of the movie and I don't know if I buy ifthat would happen. Catherine had been so emotional with the death ofher father, especially at the services, I don't know if she wouldsuccumb to her passion. However, that is the only glitch on a brilliantmovie.Director John Madden, who also directed Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love,did a great job with her in the movie. She kept her intensity in themovie and I am sure Madden had something to do with it. I also love theway he shot my favorite scene in the movie. It was dark and the lightswas in the background so you could not see their expressions, but thesilhouette of the their faces was wonderful. I also liked how Maddenwas able to keep the movie from getting confusing with all of theflashback scenes explaining what had happen to the characters.This is a great movie and I recommend every one to watch it. This moviecould be the sleeper at the big dance come February so if you can getto the theaters, skip all of the garbage that is coming out and watchPaltrow kick some butt and hopefully earn another nomination, this timeshe has earned it. **This review and others can be read atwww.bbmc.dockratent.com**
I enjoy good movies. I looked forward to renting "Proof" because of therave reviews and good actors but I was very disappointed. The storycould have been good but instead was predictable and stupid. Thecharacters were annoying to the point of being unwatchable, especiallythe sister. As for the realism, I have been to funerals where thedrinking was enthusiastic, but to have the guests set up a rock bandand have a party just was too much. I truly hated this movie and couldnot sit through another viewing for cash money. Save your cash and timeand re-rent "Crash" or "Bringing out the Dead", two movies thatdeserved their good ratings.
This review is from: Proof (DVD) another movie that presents mathematicians as socially inept and mentally unbalanced.as a student and teacher of mathematics, the greats I've met were quite the opposite. they are the most balanced in the crowd. they're the most congenial and the most fun-loving at the university staff parties.movies which present the unbalanced genius go hand-in-hand with the notion that everyone needs a slight personality disorder or a bit of ADD or ADHD or dyslexia .... come on, people! these are signs that you have too much white matter and not enough grey matter to think it through or to focus.
This movie is a little gem, and I can't understand why it hasn't provedmore popular in general release. Perhaps the absence of specialeffects, explosions and car chases? Anyone wanting to study Acting 101,could do worse than watch this film. It absorbs you in the characterscompletely.A mathematician has just died, a man who was once a genius but whosemental deterioration has led to him being sidelined by formercolleagues, and by one of his daughters. The other daughter (Paltrow)has put her own life on hold to care for him, a decision which has allbut sucked the life out of her. When one of her father's graduatestudents scours the old man's notebooks after his death, and finds workof world significance, the question is, whose work is it? The old man'sin a moment of lucidity, or his apparently under-achieving, care-giverdaughter? Proof features fine performances from Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, JakeGyllenhaal and Hope Davis, and I especially liked the way thatflashbacks were used just enough to show the ambiguity and doubt of thesituation, but without leading to confusion, as the use of flashback sooften can in the wrong hands. The direction drew attention very well tothe claustrophobic life shared by a care-giver and the dependent lovedone, as a contrast to the bright, lively college life outside. HopeDavis was perfect as the daughter who left, so bright and perky Iwanted to pick her up and bang her head against a wall! Paltrow gave aconvincing display of someone sunk into depression and apathy, andright up to the end I was unsure what the answer was to the centralconundrum. Not an escapist movie, but life affirming none the less.
On the night of her 27th birthday, Catherine isn't alone. She istalking to her father even right now. Her father, Robert, is one of theworld's best mathematicians. One of his Ph.D. advisees, Hal, goesthrough her father's notebooks to see if there is any great work thathas been undiscovered. When Hal talks to her, Catherine comes back tothe real world. Unfortunately, her father is dead. Her sister, Claire,is arriving from New York tomorrow to help her have their father'sfuneral.When Hal sorts out Robert's notebooks once again, he finds onenotebook. He says a proof shown in the notebook can change the entirecourse of modern mathematics, of course, if it's true. Then Catherinesays that it is actually she who wrote it. But her sister and Jakedoesn't believe her. And both Hal and she know that she can't prove shewrote it. Besides, people who know what she's been up to for the pasttwo years are never likely to believe that she is capable of writingsuch a proof.Playing the role of a daughter of a brilliant mathematician is GwynethPaltrow. The characters she often plays in movies are mostly elegantwomen with some makeup on. But this time she is a fragile, lonelywoman, whose father was once a genius but now suffers from some mentalillness. And Gwyneth Paltrow does a good job playing this role withlittle makeup on. In fact, her performance is such that you will be notlooking at Gwyneth Paltrow as a famous actress, but she makes you feelas if she were someone that you know from your college days.It is not just Gwyneth Paltrow's performance that makes this filmmemorable. The story itself is somewhat original though some people maybe reminded of 'A Beautiful Mind.'Comment made by Machousej.com
Although I have never seen the theater production of David Auburn'sProof, and thus cannot compare the movie to the play, I thought themovie was incredible. Gwyneth Paltrow convincingly played a weakenedyet still emotionally strong character, which is difficult to portraythrough body language, and she did an amazing job. Anthony Hopkins isboth devastating and inspiring as the crazed mathematician; hisexuberance for math until his final days is as affecting as hisinability to solve the problems. Hope Davis annoyed me to death asCatherine's (Paltrow) older sister, but her character is supposed toplay the antagonistic role, so she was exactly on target in herperformance. But I was most affected by Jake Gyllenhaal, whoseperformance was so well done that I not only believed that hischaracter was excited about math, but I became excited about it myself(and I am not a person who is easily excited by math). Also, his lovefor Catherine is believable, perhaps most so when he tries to convinceher to stay in Chicago. Everyone in the cast really becomes theircharacter in this movie, and the viewer is really taken into theirlives and their emotions. I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoysdramatic films and/or films about math.
It's interesting that most people tend to have a problem with the screenplay for this movie, when it is almost word for word the stage play, which is renowned for its elegance and simplicity. Perhaps the issue comes up in the flashbacks and the ending, both of which disagree with the play. Still, as a stage adaptation to film, Proof does the job beautifully. The characters remain true to their original 2-dimensionality; it is the apparent lack of emotion that actually lends itself to intense feelings from the viewer.
this flick mostly bit the big one, it felt very much like a stiff play,with stilted play-like dialogue, fake "on-the-nose" writing and acting,unnecessary humor, and a pat too-obvious ending...on the positive side,Gwyneth looked beautiful as always (albeit one-dimensional), Jake worenice eye makeup as always, and Hopkins had a few good scenes (esp. thelast one)...Gwyn is the Weinsteins' darling and she usually does muchbetter work...John Madden also directed her much better in "Shakespearin Love" as well...actually, John Madden the sportscaster might havedone a better job directing this flick, it would've been fast-paced andhad more "boom boom boom" injected throughout...but all in all, thisshould have stayed off the stage and not ended up on screen...rent"Beautiful Mind" or "Good Will Hunting" instead
A world famous mathematician (Hopkins) at U of Chicago had alternatingperiods of lucidity and mental illness during his last years. Hisyounger daughter, Kate (Paltrow), inherits his gift for math but dropsout of her university studies during her father's last 5 years to carefor him. After his death, a startling proof solving a longstandingmathematical dilemma is discovered in their home.Did he write it or did Kate? Hal (Gyllenhaal), the professor'sassistant and a junior faculty member, is also strongly attracted toKate--but he isn't sure who wrote it. Claire (Davis), the other, oldersister, arrives for the funeral from NYC, and to settle her father'sestate. She decides that Kate needs treatment and her supervision inNYC. Flashbacks (in Kate's mind) portray scenes with her father before hisdeath. She has fears Hal will try to pass off the proof as his own.We're puzzled until the end--who wrote this amazing proof? Is Kate tooseriously mentally ill? Definitely a mystery.All four principals did superb acting jobs, especially, IMO, Hope Davisas the unlikeable sister & Paltrow; Paltrow's performance was nominatedfor a Golden Globe.This is a quirky film that definitely some will not like. I was veryleery of it because it deals with mental illness and my experience withHollywood's treatment of this is so often (IMO) unrealistic (e.g.,"Black Swan," "American Beauty," others). I was very pleasantlysurprised.
I wasn't really expecting a lot from Proof.I was expecting it to begood, but it looks like a really boring movie from firstimpressions.Well, I will say that there were a few parts where I becamerestless, and the movie itself got quite uninteresting, but overall,this movie was great.The performances given by Gwyneth Paltrow, JakeGyllenhall, and Anthony Hopkins were great, and the movie itself wasall around really entertaining to watch.I found the script reallylikable, and the way they showed all the events out of place was edgyand unexpected.This movie deserves the rating it has, and quite franklyshould have got the Golden Globe it was nominated for.See it if youhaven't.
This review is from: Proof (DVD) This isn't the type of film where you are mildly entertained and then forget about the movie within a day or two of seeing it. Instead, the directors have tackled the formidable challenge of adapting a successful Broadway show to screen and, in the process, it sometimes works in much better ways than the stage play, broadening the possibilities and losing some of the claustrophia of the limited stage sets. It is hard to say exactly what 'genre" this play fits as it equal parts thriller, mystery and exploration of the human spirit. On the surface, the film focuses on a formerly briliant mathematical genius (played by Anthony Hopkins) who went from flashes of brilliance in his early 20s to utter insanity as he got older (with brief remissions). His daughter seems to show promise as well but she fears that the same mental instablility which plagues her father will someday strike her as well. She is a sad, often bitter, person. Gyneth Paltrow is so exceptional in the role of the daughter, Catherine, a woman who is complex, difficult and anxious, that it is hard to imagine anyone else doing justice to the role. After her father's death, she is left to pick up the pieces with the help of a math student who is researching Catherine's father, in both his glory and illness. In addition to hundreds of illegible journals left behind by her father, one stands out, possibly leading to a breakthrough moment in mathmatical history. It is, in short a great proof...but who wrote it? Did the genius father in one of his rare moments of remission? Or did his talented (but unacclaimed) daughter do so? Needless to say, this raises issues of trust as well as how you prove something which is very hard to prove. Catherine has been a recluse for years, caring for her ailing father. She disappeared from academia and her reputation was never established. Contrast that with the history of her father and it his hard to decide who was most likely to be in a state of mind to come up with an elegant, groundbreaking proof. As doubt rears its head, Catherine seems to be suspected by everyone around her, from her boyfriend to her sister. She nearly cracks completely under the pain and pressure and the film doesn't lead to a neat, pat resolution. The word "Proof" revolves on so many levels in this lovely movie, hinting that some things are ultimately unproveable and must be taken on a certain degree of faith. Catherine nearly loses her strength, her spirit and her confidence in the process but she is stronger than she thinks, although her sister does her best to sabotage her confidence and whatever shreds of self-esteem she has left. This is a deep, rich movie that makes one think about how we commit to people and ideas, how we prove that our accomplishments are our own (when all evidence seems to point to the contrary) and but how it is always a the leap of faith to trust others. In that regard, these is no ultimate proof.