Proof (1991)

Writer-director Jocelyn Moorehouse makes a strong impression in her first feature, “Proof,” an unsentimental melodrama about a blind man.

Moorhouse’s “Proof” was the revelation of the New Directors/New Films Series at MoMA.  For some critics, it was one of the most imaginative and provocative mediation on the metaphysics of photography since Antonioni’s seminal “Blow Up,” in 1966.

In most Hollywood movies, the disabled, especially the blind get a simplistic, reverential treatment.  But the protag of “Proof,” Martin (Hugo Weaving) is nothing of the kind.  Decidedly not a nice or polite man, he will not be ignored—by anyone.

When he feels that he is mistreated at the restaurant, he pours his wine so that it misses the glass.  Back at home, he can tell by the sound when how full the glass is.

Martin, who has been blind since birth, doesn’t trust anyone.  He assumes that people lie to him as a protective mechanism—a way to soften his feelings of isolation and misery—and also n order manipulate him.

It began with Martin’s mother, who lied to him because she was ashamed of him and wanted to punish him.  There are devastating flashbacks to Martin’s blind childhood (he is played as a boy by Jeffrey Walker) and his emotionally crippling suspicions of his mother’s true feelings about him. He goes as far as holding that she faked her death to get away from him. 

Martin lives by his instincts, guided by a series of signals, such as smells and sounds; he functions as a proud detective of his own life.  Martin takes pictures with his camera, though he doesn’t trust anyone to describe them. Least of all is his housekeeper Celia (Genevieve Picot), who plays cruel tricks on him to feed her masochistic obsession.  He cynically exploits her passion for him for his own ironic amusement.

In time, he develops friendship with Andy (Russell Crowe), a drifter working as a dishwasher in a restaurant.

Gradually, amiable trust grows up between the two men as Andy becomes Martin’s eyes, and the verifier of the reality of his photos.  The photography serves as a metaphor for the trust in a mother-son relationship and in a male friendship.  Indeed, Celia’s jealous reaction to the friendship leads to intrigues and betrayal, threatening the friendship.

Hugo Weaving and Russell Crowe (before he became a star) render two of the most complimentary and charismatic male performances. It’s noteworthy that the unsympathetic role of Celia was created by a female writer-director, a marvel in these politically correct times.


Martin (Hugo Weaving)

Celia (Genevieve Picot)

Andy (Russell Crowe)

Martin’s Mother (Heather Mitchell)

Young Martin (Jeffrey Walker)

Gary, the Punk (Daniel Pollock)

Vet (Frank Gallacher)

Brian, the Policeman (Frankie J. Holden)

Waitress (Saskia Post)

Doctor (Belinda Davey)


Produced by Lynda House

Written and directed by Jocelyn Moorehouse

Camera: Martin McGrath

Editor: Ken Sallows

Production design: Patrick Reardon

Costumes: Cerri Barnett

Running time: 86 Minutes