Our chief critic at the Post gave math-genius-gone-mad drama Proof four stars last week, but in today's popcorn panel (free) myself, theatre critic Robert Cushman, and Television Without Pity's Tara Ariano aren't nearly as enthused.
But what you and I and everyone we know really wants to know is what do mathematicians think about the film? Inside Higher Ed has the scoop. Is the level of unkemptness accurate?
“That definitely happens,” said Shilpa Khatri, 24, a third-year applied math grad student studying computational fluid dynamics at NYU, referring to the hair, not the romance. “When you have an idea and get excited, you’re like, ‘Oh, I haven’t showered or eaten,’” said Khatri, who also happens to be Stechmann’s girlfriend. All three agreed that the pace of work alluded to in the movie, nil at some points and frantically inspired at others, resembles real life. At one point, inspiration strikes and Catherine’s hand freezes as she reaches for a jar of Mayo, the only food in her refrigerator. “Ideas come at weird times,” Stechmann said. Added Kontorovich, “most of my work, I do on the can.”There you have it. Straight for the source.
I can safely say that the wild party scene is accurate. The only math party I ever went to while at McGill involved people graphing in the living room, several professors with crazy beards, a bathtub full of beer and, later in the evening, myself at a piano singing a song entirely based around the C chord with the lyrics: "Mathematicians / Mathematicians / You're all going to be / Computer technicians."