Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 108 minutes
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“The Naked Proof” is a comedy about ideas, instead of situations. What exactly does that mean? It means that you are going to find the laughs in the alternating philosophies of the characters. The opposite of typical comedies, where all the laughs come from the characters getting bonked on the head or being puked on. Yes, that means this is a comedy for intellectuals, aka film festival audiences.
Right away, that may turn many of you off, as you may think that this film will be preachy or pretentious. Writer/Director Jamie Hook mainly lets the viewer decide for themselves. He keeps his own philosophies mostly in check. Although, you can no doubt find them in the main character Henry, played by Michael Chick.
Henry is a philosophy professor at the University of Washington. He’s been long at work on his dissertation, which is literally about the meaning of life. A tough task. When the wacky Dean gives him two weeks to finish, it starts a philosophical fight within himself and the actual race to finish it. It’s the flimsiest of plotlines, but that’s not what the film is about.
The real story begins when a very pregnant Miriam, shows up out of nowhere at his apartment. (She is played by the truly pregnant actress Arlette Del Toro, which I found intriguing.) The problem is that Henry and the audience are unsure if Miriam actually exists. She seems to have sprung from Henry’s subconscious. At first she only appears to Henry, but soon she is interacting with many of the characters around them. It’s the concept that your own ideas can get away from you, becoming their own entity. There are many discussions in the film about how can you prove if something is in fact real, but never directly about her.
Miriam changes Henry’s once normal life, contradicting every idea and moral stance that Henry holds. She in turn over-powers the film. Every second she’s on screen is far more interesting than any moment without her. It’s an unforgettable performance and the best thing about the film.
Back to Henry’s conundrum. First Miriam’s covering Henry’s walls in art that he would never look twice at before. Then she’s picking him up in a stolen car and dragging him to her OB-GYN appointment, implying that he’s the father. But most dramatic of all, she’s changing Henry’s beliefs about the world. That maybe his dissertation isn’t everything, maybe he should be slowing down to smell the proverbial flowers.
It’s refreshing to see an independent comedy that doesn’t ape another filmmaker’s style. Creator Jamie Hook has a unique voice. The film
is smartly written, with a lot of great dialogue. The performances are all decent enough, with the only standout being the aforementioned Arlette Del Toro. The film is also noteworthy for the big screen debut of playwright August Wilson. His introduction to the film is one of the highlights.
“The Naked Proof” is a film about big ideas, the biggest really. It may work extremely well with some viewers, while turning others completely off. It will depend on your own philosophies. But at least you’re guaranteed a good post movie conversation.
Posted on May 9, 2004 in Reviews by Ross Williams
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