Martin (Hugo Weaving) and new friend Andy (Russell Crowe) look at the pictures Martin took the previous night, when they took an injured cat to the vet. Martin asks Andy to describe each picture in less than ten words. He then labels the picture, for ‘proof’. Martin asks Andy to become his regular describer, but cautions him that he must never lie to him. Andy can’t imagine why he would ever need to.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Proof is that the script is not afraid to show its intelligence. This is more unusual than it might seem in Australian cinema, where there’s sometimes a horror of being seen as overly intellectual. Proof is powered by lots of ideas and questions, but they’re well embedded in the fabric of the story. The film considers the politics of photography in connection with the politics of relationships, starting from the question of whether trust is possible without some mode of verification. If Martin can never see what’s in front of him, how can he believe that it exists – one of the oldest questions of philosophy. Taking a picture doesn’t solve his problem, unless he can find a person who will describe and never lie. Proof is partly about the impossibility of a life with that much need for verification.