Proof (2005) Script

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Can't sleep?


Oh, you scared me.

I'm sorry.

What are you doing here? I just thought I'd check up on you.

Why aren't you in bed?

Your student's still here. He's up in your study.

He's not my student anymore. He's teaching now. He's a bright kid.

What time is it? After midnight.

So? So?

Happy birthday. Dad!

Do I ever forget?

Thank you.

27. I can't believe it.

Neither can I.

I forgot the glasses. You want me to...?


This is the worst champagne I have ever tasted.

It's not even champagne. The bottle's the right shape.

"Windy Valley Vineyards."

I didn't know they made wine in Wisconsin. You want some?

I hope you're not spending your birthday alone.

I'm not alone. I don't count.

Why not? I'm your old man. Go out with friends.

Yeah, right. Aren't your friends taking you out?

Nope. Why not?

For your friends to take you out, you have to have friends. Funny how that works.

You have friends. What about that cute blonde? Lives over on Ellis Avenue.

You used to spend every minute together. Christie Jacobson?

Christie Jacobson.

That was in third grade, Dad. Oh.

Last time I saw her was in a sandbox.

What about Claire?

She's not my friend. She's my sister.

And she's in New York. And I don't like her.

I thought she was coming in.

Not till tomorrow.

My advice if you can't sleep is to sit down and do some mathematics.

Please! We could do some together, the old way.

Can't think of anything worse.

Line by line, out loud. Sure you don't want any?

You better get cracking. By the time I was your age, I had already done my best work.

How old were you? Hmm?

When it started.


You know, when... you got sick.


26, 27. Is that what you're worried about? I've thought about it.

Just because I went bughouse doesn't mean you will. It's not strictly hereditary.

Listen to me. Life changes fast in your 20s, and it shakes you up.

You're down, you've had a lousy couple of years. No one knows that better than me.

You're gonna be OK. I am?

Yes. I promise you.

The simple fact that we can talk about this together is a good sign.

A good sign? Yeah.

How could it be a good sign?

Because crazy people don't sit around wondering if they're nuts.

They don't? No. They've got better things to do.

Take it from me.

A very good sign that you're crazy is an inability to ask the question, "Am I crazy?"

Even if the answer is yes?

Crazy people don't ask, you see?


What do you say? Let's call it a night. You can go up and get some sleep.

Then in the morning... Wait.

What's the matter? It doesn't make sense.

Sure it does. No.

Where's the problem? The problem is...

You are crazy. So?

So you said a crazy person would never admit that.

Ah. I see.


It's a point. So how can you admit it?

Well, because...

I'm also dead.

Aren't I?

You died a week ago. Aneurysm. 63 years old.

The funeral's tomorrow.


Did I... Did I hurt you? No. It's OK.


Mr. Dobbs, you gonna stand there forever?

This is my daughter Catherine.

Hi. Hi.

Mr. Dobbs is in our infinite program.

As he approaches completion of his dissertation, time approaches infinity.

Catherine? What?

I'm sorry. I just wanted to say I'm done for the night.


Champagne, huh? Yes.

Celebrating? Do you want some?

Sure. I'm done. You can take the rest with you.

Oh. Um...

No, thanks. Take it. I'm done.

No. I'm driving. Um...

I'll let myself out. Good.

When should I come back? Come back?

Yeah. I'm no way near finished. Maybe tomorrow?

We have a funeral tomorrow.

You're right. I'm sorry. I was going to attend, if that's all right.


What about Sunday? Will you be around?

You've had three days.

I know you don't need anybody in your hair, but someone's got to go through your dad's stuff.

There's nothing up there. There are 103 notebooks.

He was a graphomaniac, Harold. Do you know what that is?

He wrote compulsively. Call me Hal.

It's like a monkey at a typewriter. 103 notebooks full of bullshit.

I'm prepared to look at every page. Are you?


I'm not crazy.

Well, I'm gonna be late.

Some friends of mine are in this band.

They're playing in a bar on Diversey, way down the bill, around 2:30.

I said I'd be there. Great.

They're all in the math department. They're good.

They have this song called "i." You'd like it. Lowercase i.

They just stand there. They don't play anything for three minutes.

Imaginary number?

It's a math joke. You see why they're way down the bill.

That's a long drive to see some nerds in a band.

I hate when people say that. It's not really that long of a drive.

So they are nerds. Oh, they're raging geeks.

But they're geeks who can dress themselves and hold down a job at a major university.

Some of them have switched from glasses to contacts.

They play sports. They play in a band. They get laid surprisingly often.

So it makes you kind of question the whole set of terms:

"Geek," "nerd," "wonk," "Dilbert," "paste-eater."

You're in this band, aren't you? OK, yes.

I play the drums. You wanna come? I never sing. I swear to God.

No, thanks. All right, look. Catherine.

Monday. What do you say? Don't you have a job?

A full teaching load plus my own work. Plus band practice.

Plus I teach hockey to ten-year-olds. You make me sick.

I don't have time to do this, but I have to if you'll let me.

I loved your dad, and I don't believe a mind like his can just shut down.

He had lucid moments, a lucid year, a whole year three years ago.

Sorry. Look, let me...

Wait. You're 27, right? How old are you?

Doesn't matter. How old are you?

I'm 26. When your dad was younger than both of us, he made major contributions to three fields:

Game theory, algebraic geometry... Don't lecture me.

If I came up with a tenth of the shit your dad produced, I could write my ticket to any math department in the country.

Give me your backpack.


Because I wanna look inside it. What?

Open it up and give it to me. Come on.

You're not taking anything out of here. I wouldn't.

You're hoping to find something you can publish?

Sure. Then you can write your own ticket?

What? No, it would be under your dad's name, for your dad.

You have something in that backpack. What...?

Give it to me! Look, you're being a little paranoid.

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean there isn't something in...

You said yourself that there was nothing up there, didn't you? Didn't you?

Yes. So what would I take, right?

You're right.

Thank you.

Oh, what the hell...?

This isn't an airport.

You can come back.

The University Health Service is very good.

I'm fine.

Also... exercise is great.

I go running along the lake a couple mornings a week.

It clears my head. It's not too cold yet.

If you wanted to, I could pick you up.

No, thanks.

All right. Well, I'm gonna be late for the show. I'd better go.

Good night.

Wait. You forgot your jacket. Oh, no, you...

I'm paranoid? You think I should go jogging?

Just hold on. Get out. Get the hell out of my house!

Let me explain. I wanna show you something.

Give it back. Wait...

I'm calling the police. What? Don't.

Look, I borrowed the book, all right?

'Cause I found something your father wrote. Not math. Just something he wrote.

I'd like to report a robbery. Put the phone down.

A robbery. It's about you.

He's in the house right now! Here's your name.

I'm at 4655 South... "Catherine," see? "Catherine."


"Not a bad day. Some good news from Catherine."

I'm not sure what that meant. I thought you might.

When did he write this? Ma'am?

Three years ago. "Machinery's not working yet, but there's cause for optimism."

The machinery is what he called his mind, his ability to do mathematics.

I know.

"Talking with students helps, so does riding in buses.

"Most of all Cathy.

"Her refusal to let me be institutionalized, caring for me herself, "has certainly saved my life.

"Made writing this possible.

"Made it possible to imagine doing math again.

"Where does her strength come from?

"I can never repay her. Today is her birthday.

"She is 24. I'm taking her to dinner."

So what are we going to do on your birthday?

Dad... Let's get the hell out of this neighborhood.

Let's go to the North side or Chinatown. Greektown. I don't know what's good.

Dad? Hmm?

I'm going to school.


I'm gonna start at Northwestern at the end of the month.


I shouldn't have tried to sneak it out. I know it sounds stupid, but I was gonna wrap it.

Happy birthday.

What's wrong with Chicago?

You still teach there.

I'm sorry. That is too weird, me taking classes in your department.

It's a long drive. It's not that long. It's half an hour.

Still, twice a day.


I'd live there.

You'd actually want to live in Evanston?

I'd still be close. I can come home whenever you want.


You've been well. You've been really well for almost seven months now.

I don't think you need me here every minute of the day.

Yes? Someone here call the police?

No, honey.

I think we should put the aqua plates on the registry and the brown couch.

Your mother wants to buy us a substantial piece of furniture, and that's the biggest thing that I could find that will fit in our apartment.

Well, then, don't worry about it, honey. I'll be home by tomorrow night.

Yeah, let's just get through today first. Hold on a second.


Huh? Um...

I don't know. She didn't pick up when I called.

Hopefully better than yesterday.

First thing I'm gonna do is throw her into the shower and get her out in the sun.

Better. Much. Thanks.

You feel better? Yep.

You look a million times better.

Have some coffee. OK.

No. Black. Have a little milk.

Have a banana. No. Thank you.

Good thing I brought food. There is nothing in the house.

I've been meaning to go shopping.

Do you want a bagel? No. I hate breakfast.

Coffee. Still making those lists, huh?

It's... It's a compulsion.

Do you ever cheat and tick off something you haven't actually done yet?

Well, I would only be cheating myself.


Did you use that conditioner I brought you?

No. Shit. I forgot. Well, it's my favorite.

You'll love it, Katie. I want you to try it.

I'll try it next time. You'll like it. It has jojoba.

What is jojoba?

It's something they put in for healthy hair.

Hair is dead. What?

It's... It's dead tissue. You can't make it healthy.

Whatever. It's good for your hair. Like what? A chemical?

No. It's organic. It can be organic and still be a chemical.

I don't know what it is. Heard of organic chemistry?

It makes my hair look, smell and feel good, and that is the extent of my information about it.

You might like it if you decide to use it.

Thanks. I'll try it.

If you don't have anything to wear for today, we could go shopping downtown.


It'll be fun. My birthday present.


Is there anything else you need?

No. I'm cool.

Anything at all while I'm here? Uh-uh.

I thought we'd have some people over tonight.

If you're feeling OK.

We are burying Dad this afternoon.

You have to have something. People expect it.

And it's the only time I can see any old Chicago friends. It'll be nice.

I think Dad would've wanted us to have a good time.

It's a funeral, but we don't have to be completely grim about it.

Mitch says hi. Hi, Mitch.

He sends you his love. I told him you would see him soon, and...

We're getting married. No shit.

Yes. We just decided. Yikes.


Oh. When? In January.

You know, his job is great.

I just got promoted.


You will come? Yeah. Sure. In January?

I mean, it's not like I have to check my schedule or anything. Sure.

Do you know what you wanna do now? No.

Do you wanna stay in Chicago? I don't know.

Do you wanna go back to school? I haven't thought about it.

Well, there's a lot to think about.

How do you feel? Physically? Great.

Except my hair seems unhealthy. I wish there was something...

Come on, Catherine. What is the point of all these questions?

Katie, some police officers came by while you were in the shower.


They said they were checking up on things and wanted to see how everything was.

That was nice of them. What about this?

They said they responded to a call last night and came to the house.


Did you call the police last night? Yeah.


Because I thought the house was being robbed.

But it wasn't? No. I changed my mind.

The police told me you seemed disoriented and abusive.

These guys were assholes, Claire.

They seemed perfectly nice. They wouldn't leave.

They wanted me to, like, fill out a report.

Were you abusive?

This one cop kept spitting on me when he talked. It was disgusting.

Did you use the word "dickhead"?

I don't remember.

Did you tell one cop to go... have sex with the other cop's mother?


That's what they said. Not with that phrasing.

Did you strike one of them? They were trying to come into the house.

Oh, my God. No! I might have pushed him a little.

They said you seemed disturbed. They were trying to search my house!

You called them. Yes.

But I didn't actually want them to come.

So why did you call?

Because I was trying to get this guy out of the house.

What is this man's name? Hal.

Harold. Harold Dobbs.

Because the police said that you were the only person there.

Because he left before they got there. With the notebooks?

No, Claire, don't be stupid. There are over a hundred notebooks.

He was only stealing one. But he was stealing it to give it back to me.

So I let him go so he could play with his band on the north side. What about this?

His band? He was late.

He wanted me to come with him. I was like, "Yeah, right."

Is Harold Dobbs your boyfriend?


Are you sleeping with him? Ew!

No. He's a math geek.

And he's in a band? A rock band?

No. A marching band. He plays trombone.

Yes. A rock band.

What is the name of this band? How should I know?

Harold Dobbs didn't tell you the name of his rock band?


Well, is Harold Dobbs...?

Stop saying "Harold Dobbs." Is this person...?

Harold Dobbs exists. I'm sure he does.

He's a mathematician at the University of Chicago.

Call the freaking math department.

Mitch has become an excellent cook. It's like his hobby now.

He buys all these gadgets:

Garlic press, olive oil sprayer.

Every night there's something new.

The other day he made vegetarian chili.

What are you talking about?

Stay with us for a while.

I'm OK here.

Chicago is dead. New York is so much more fun.

Well, the fun thing is not really where my head's at at the moment.

You look so tired. I am.

I just think you could use some downtime. Downtime?

Katie, please, you've had a hard time.

I'm perfectly OK. I think you're upset and exhausted.

I was fine until you got here.



Who is that?

Harold Dobbs!



I really don't need this, Claire.

I'm fine, you know. I'm totally fine. And then you show up here with these questions.

Like, "Are you OK?" with that soothing tone of voice. And... Oh.

The poor policemen. I think the policemen can handle themselves.

And bagels and bananas and jojoba.

And "Come to New York." And vegetarian chili!

I mean, it really pisses me off, so just save it.

I'm Claire. I'm Catherine's sister. Oh, hi. Hal. Nice to meet you.

So he had to go back and fix the paper in galleys.

He pretty much held it together with baling wire.

This is a man who, back in the UK, at the age of 22, basically invented the mathematical techniques for studying rational behavior and gave the astrophysicists plenty to think about when he came over here.

Men like Robert Llewellyn come into the world very rarely.

And we will miss the man... intensely.

But... the work will endure.

I'm not on the program.


I can't believe how many people are here. I never knew he had this many friends.

Where have you all been for the last five years?

I guess to you guys he was already dead, right?

I mean, what's a great man without his greatness?

Just some old guy.

So you probably wanna catch up on what you missed out on.


He used to read all day. He kept demanding more and more books.

I was getting them out of the library by the carload. There were hundreds.

And then one day I realized he wasn't reading.

He believed aliens were sending him messages through the Dewey decimal numbers in the books.

He was trying to work out the code.

He used to shuffle around in his slippers.

He talked to himself.

He stank.

I had to make sure he bathed, which was embarrassing.

Then he started writing 19, 20 hours a day.

I got him this huge case of notebooks. He used every one.

I dropped out of school.

You see, he was convinced that... he was writing the most beautiful, elegant proofs.

Proofs like music.

I'm glad he's dead.

Catherine. Catherine.


Don't call the cops.

I can't believe I just said that.

No, it definitely pushed the envelope.

I think I need to go home. Then I'll drive you.

No, that's OK. I'm gonna walk.

It's a long walk.


Their day care is excellent. We're starting to apply for preschools now, which locks you into a commitment.

It does?

Yeah. Yeah.

Do you ever miss Chicago? No.

I mean, uh...


No. You have the house now, though.

You and Mitch should move back and fix it up.

You look great.

Claire gave it to me.

I... I like it.

It doesn't really fit.

Sure it does.

You can't prove it.

Well, I can try and disprove the opposite.

I can prove that it doesn't not fit.


I could take a vote.

To your old man. Hell of a guy.

Thank you.

Too bad he went nuts.

Hell of a guy anyway.

What do you do? I'm a currency analyst.

I probably inherited one thousandth of my father's talent.

Are you a mathematician? Ooh. Christ, no.

Theoretical phys-physics.

To the physicists. Drink up.

When do you think they'll leave?

No way to know. Mathematicians are insane.

I went to this conference in Toronto last fall. I have never been so exhausted in my life.

48 straight hours of partying, drinking, drugs, papers, lectures.

Drugs? Amphetamines mostly.

I don't. Some older guys, they're hooked. They think they need it.


There's this fear that your creativity peaks around 23, then it's all downhill from there.

That's what my dad thought.

I guess all the really original work, it's... all young guys.

Young guys? No, there are some women.

Really? Who?

There's a woman at Stanford. I can't remember her name.

Sophie Germain?

Yeah. I think I've seen her at meetings, but I don't think I've ever met her.

She was born in Paris in 1776.

Then I've definitely never met her.

Ah, I'm... Sophie Germain.

I'm stupid. Germain primes. Right.

Double them, add one, you get another prime.

Like two is prime, double plus one is five, also prime.


Or 92,305 times two to the 16,998th plus one.


That's the biggest one, the biggest known one.

Coming through!

Oh, what the hell are they doing here?


Now we'd like to play a song in tribute to a great man, a great mathematician.

It's called "i."

One, two, one, two, three...

You're probably right. That book I stole?

I'm starting to think it's the only lucid one, and there's no math in it.


I mean, I'll keep reading, but if I can't find anything in the next couple of days...

Back to the hockey rink?


And your own research.

Such as it is.

What's wrong with it?

The big ideas aren't there.

Well, it's not about big ideas. It's... It's work.

You got to chip away at a problem.

That's not what your dad did. I think it was, in a way.

I mean, he'd attack a problem from the side, you know, from some weird angle.

Sneak up on it, grind away at it.

I don't know.

I don't know. I'm just guessing.

I enjoy teaching.

You might come up with something. It's not gonna happen. I'm 26.

Remember the downward slope?

Have you tried speed? I heard it helps. Yeah.


This is my room.

Wow. You read a lot of math.

No. I read Cosmo. That's just window dressing.

You're a mysterious person, Catherine. You know that?

You want a drink?

I'm OK.

We never got to celebrate your birthday.



I'm sorry. I just... I'm a little drunk.

It's OK.

I'm a little out of practice.

I always liked you.

You did? But then I thought:

"You don't flirt with your doctoral adviser's daughter."

Especially when your adviser's crazy?

Especially then.

I saw you at my dad's office once. Do you remember?

I can't believe you remember that.

I remember you.

I thought that you seemed... not boring.

Oh, I'm sorry.

Oh, I feel like I'm gonna crack open like...

Like what?

An egg.

Or one of those really smelly French cheeses that ooze out everywhere when you cut them.



How long have you been up?

A while.

Is your sister up?


Her flight leaves in a couple of hours. I should probably wake her.

Let her sleep. She did some serious drinking with the theoretical physicists last night.

I'll make her some coffee when she gets up.

Sunday mornings I usually go out, get the paper, have some breakfast.


Do you wanna come?


Well, I should probably stick around until Claire leaves.


Do you mind if I stay?


You can work if you want.

All right.

Should I? You can if you want to.

Do you want me to go? Do you wanna go?

I wanna stay here with you. Oh.

Wanna spend the day with you, if at all possible.

I wanna spend as much time with you as I can, unless I'm coming on way too strong and scaring you, in which case I'll begin back-pedaling immediately.

How embarrassing is it if I say last night was wonderful?

It's only embarrassing if I don't agree.


Don't be embarrassed.



The drawer in the desk in my dad's office.

What's in there?


Good morning. Please, don't yell. Please.

Are you all right? No.

Theoretical physicists. What happened?

Thanks a lot for leaving me alone with them.

That band.


They were terrible. They were OK. They had fun, I think.

Well, as long as everybody had fun. Your dress turned out all right.

I love it. You do?

Yeah. It's wonderful.

I was surprised you even wore it. I love it, Claire.


You're welcome. Well, you're in a good mood.

Should I not be? Are you kidding? No, I'm thrilled.

It's just... I...

Hold on a second, Katie. I just...

I'm leaving soon, and... I know. You said.

I would still like you to come to New York.

Yes. January.

I would like you to move to New York.


You could stay with me and Mitch at first, and then you could get your own place.

I've already scouted some apartments for you. Really cute places.

What would I do in New York?

You could do whatever you want. You could work. You could go back to school.

I don't know, Claire, this is pretty major.

I realize that.

I know you mean well, OK?

Well, to be honest, you were right yesterday.

It's been a pretty weird couple of years, and I think I'd just like to take some time and figure things out.

But it would be much easier for me to get you set up in an apartment in New York.

I don't need an apartment. I'll stay in the house.

We're selling the house.


I'm hoping to do the paperwork this week. I know that seems sudden.

No one was here looking at the place. Who are you selling it to?

The university. They've wanted it back for years.

I live here.

Come to New York. We'll have so much fun.

I don't believe this. It would be so good.

You deserve a change. This would be a whole new adventure for you.

Why are you doing this? I want to help.

By kicking me out of my house?

This is my house, too. Please! You haven't lived here for years.

I know that. You were on your own. I really regret that, Katie. And now I want to help.

You wanna help now?


Dad is dead.

I know. He's dead.

Now that he's dead, you fly in for the weekend and decide you wanna help?

You're late. Where have you been? Where were you five years ago?

I was working. I was here.

I lived with him alone.

I was working 14-hour days.

I paid off the mortgage on this house while living in a studio apartment in Brooklyn.

You had a life. You got to finish school.

You could've finished school. How?

I told you a million times to do anything you wanted.

And what about Dad? He was ill.

He should've been in a full-time professional care situation.

He didn't belong in the nuthouse.

He might have been better off. He needed to be here in his own house, near everything that made him happy.


Or maybe some real professional care would have done him more good than rattling around in this mausoleum with you looking after him.

What about his remission? Three years ago, he was healthy for almost a year.

Then he went downhill again. He might have been worse in a hospital.

He might have been better. Did he ever do any work again?

No. No. And you might have been better.

Better... than what?

You had so much talent.

You think I'm like Dad.

I think you have some of his talent and some of his tendency toward instability.


In addition to the cute apartments that you've scouted for me in New York, have you by any chance devoted some of your considerable energies towards scouting out another type of living facility for your bughouse little sister?

No. Absolutely not. That is not what this is about.

Don't lie to me, Claire.

The resources that I've investigated... My God.

If you wanted. All I'm saying is, the doctors and the people in New York are the best.

Jesus! You wouldn't have to live...

I hate you! Don't yell.

I hate you!

What are you doing here?

How long have you known about this?

A while.

Why didn't you tell me about it?

I wasn't sure if I wanted to.

Thank you.

You're welcome.

What's going on? Catherine, thank you.

I thought you might like to see it. What is it?

It's incredible. What is it?

Oh, it's a result, a proof.

It looks like a proof. It is a proof. A very long proof.

I haven't read through it all yet or checked it. I don't even know if I could check it.

But if it's a proof of what I think it's a proof of, it's a very important proof.

What does it prove?

It looks like it proves a mathematical theorem about prime numbers which mathematicians have been trying to prove since there were mathematicians.

You know about this?

Is it any good? It's historic, if it checks out.

What does it mean?

It means that when everybody thought your dad was crazy, he did some of the most important mathematics ever.

If it checks out, it means you publish instantly. You hold press conferences.

It means that all newspapers around the world are gonna want to talk to the person who found this notebook.

Catherine. Catherine.

I didn't find it.

Yes, you did. No, I didn't.

Did you find it or did Hal find it? I didn't find it.

I didn't find it.

I wrote it.

Hey, guys. Where you headed?

I'm late for Bhandari. You know what he's like. Better get there.

Catch you later.


Ah. Catherine.

So nice of you to drop by. Sorry I'm late.

This work of yours... I know. I'm sorry.

I mean, it's interesting. You think so?

In that it has nothing to do with the problems I'd asked you to solve.

It won't happen again. What happened?

You simply couldn't control yourself?

No. I just... I thought I should get all those ideas down while they were in my head, and then it was morning, and I couldn't come in with nothing.

But this is the third time that inspiration's overtaken you just at the moment when you had to submit to my idea of what it is you should be learning.

A third? Really. Differential equations don't interest you.

No, they do. I mean... Yeah, they absolutely do.

Oh, but they didn't last night.

Not as much as usual.

I mean...

I'm worried that your work is deteriorating.

There are some good ideas here, but... it isn't a coherent mathematical argument.

Well, I didn't get time to finish it. But mathematics isn't jazz.

Even the craziest mathematics is working towards a proof.

Not all the mathematicians in my family are crazy.

I wasn't using the word in a clinical way. I know. I know. Just for the record.

How is your father?

I don't know. I haven't been able to get in touch with him for a week.

He's fine.

Last time I talked to him, he was fine. He's been fine for months now. Nine months.

He was a great man.

He still is.

You're gonna fail me, aren't you?

I'm giving you another chance to redo the problem set.

You need an A. You're quite capable of earning one.

Thank you.

Professor Bhandari? Yeah.

Don't worry about me, OK?

I'm gonna write you a really nice fat set of answers that you're really gonna like.

Hi. We're not here. Please leave a message.

Claire? Hi. Listen. When was the last time you spoke to Dad?

Tuesday? Oh, God.

It's fine. It's just that I normally talk to him every day, and I haven't been able to get ahold of him.

Well, I'm glad that you're sure everything's fine.

I feel much more comfortable. Thank you.

What could have happened? I mean, he could've had a car accident.

He could've fallen and broken his hip.

He could be running naked down the Midway for all I know.

Yes, Claire, I know that you care about Dad.

Yeah, as much as me. OK. Now can I please get off the phone?






Catherine, hi. What a surprise.

What are you doing out here? I'm thinking.


It's 30 degrees. It's the middle of the night.

I know. Well, aren't you cold?

Of course I am. I'm freezing my ass off.

So what are you doing out here?

It's too hot in the house. The radiators clank and I couldn't concentrate.

I've been calling and calling. Did you not get my messages?

It's a distraction.

I didn't know what was going on. I had to drive all the way out here.

I can see that.

Why don't you answer the phone? I'm sorry, Catherine.

But it's a question of priorities, and work takes priority. You know that.

You're working?

Goddamn it!

I'm working!

I mean, I say "I."


The machinery's working, Catherine.

It's on full blast. All the cylinders are firing.

I'm on fire.

That's why I came out here to cool off. I haven't felt like this for years.

You're kidding. No.

I don't believe it. I don't believe it either, but it's true.

It started about a week ago. I woke up.

I came downstairs, made a cup of coffee.

Before I could pour the milk in, it was like someone turned the light on in my head.

Really? Not the light. The whole grid. I lit up!

It's like no time has passed since I was 21.

You're kidding me. No. I'm back.

I'm back. In touch with the source! The font.

Whatever the source of my creativity was all those years ago, I'm in contact with it.

I'm sitting on it. It's a geyser, and I'm shooting up in the air on top of it.


I'm not talking about divine inspiration. It's not funneling into my head, onto the page.

I'm not saying it won't be a lot of work. It will be, a tremendous amount of work.

It's not gonna be easy. But the raw material is there.

I see places for the work to go, new techniques.

I'm gonna get whole branches of the profession talking to each other.

I'm sorry.

I'm being rude.

How's school? School's fine.

You're working hard? Sure.

Faculty treating you all right? Yes.

Made any friends? Yes.

You dating? Dad.

No details necessary if you don't want to provide them.

School is fine, OK? I want to talk about what you're doing.

Great. Let's talk.

This work... Yes.

It's here? Part of it, yes.

Can I see it? It's all at a very early stage.

I don't care. It's not complete.

To be honest, it's all in progress. I think we're talking years.

Dad, it's OK. Just let me see anything.

You really want to? Yes.

You're genuinely interested? Dad, of course.

Of course. It is your field.


You know how happy that makes me?


I think there's enough here to keep me working the rest of my life. And not just me.

I was starting to imagine I was finished, Catherine. Really finished.

I was terrified I'd never work again. Did you know that?

I wondered. I was absolutely bloody terrified.

Then I remembered something. I remembered you.

Your creative years were just beginning. You'd get your degree, do your own work.

If you hadn't gone into math, that would've been all right.

Now, Claire's done well for herself. I'm satisfied with her.

I'm proud of you!

I know you've got your own work, and I don't want you to neglect that.

You mustn't neglect it. But I could probably use some help.

To be honest, I'd like you to help me, to work with me, if you want to.

If you can work it out with your class schedule. I could help you with that.

Make some calls, talk to your teachers.

I'm sorry. I'm getting ahead of myself.

Oh, Jesus, look, enough bullshit.

You asked to see something. Let's start with this.

I have roughed something out. It's a general outline for a proof.

It's a major result. It's important.

It's not finished, but, uh... you can see where it's going.



It's very rough.

Was there any other work in here? No. That's the only...

Can I see it?

I'm sorry. I just...

So you wrote this incredible thing, but you didn't tell anyone?

I'm telling you both now.

Catherine, I'm sorry, but I just find this very hard to believe.

Claire... This is Dad's handwriting.

It's not.

It looks exactly like it. That is my writing.

I'm sorry.

Well, ask Hal. He's been looking at Dad's writing all week.

Well, I don't know. Hal, come on.

I'm not a handwriting expert. Well, whose writing does it look like?

It looks... I don't know what Catherine's handwriting looks like.

It looks like that.


You know what I think? I think it's early, and everybody's tired and not in the best state to make emotional decisions.

So let's just all take a breath. You don't believe me.

Well, I really don't know anything about this.

Never mind.

I don't know why I expected you to believe me about anything.

Could you tell us the proof? And then that would show that it was yours.

You wouldn't understand it.

Well, tell it to Hal.

I mean, I could. We could sit down and talk it through. It might take a while.

You can't use the book. For God's sake, it's 40 pages long.

I didn't memorize it. It's not a muffin recipe.

Oh, Jesus, this is stupid.

Hal, tell her. Tell her what?

Whose book is that? I don't know.

What is the matter with you?

You've been... You've been going through this other stuff.

You know there's nothing even remotely like that up here.

Catherine... OK. OK.

OK, we'll sit down and I'll talk you through the proof.


If Claire will please let me have my book back.

All right. OK, talk him through it.

It still wouldn't prove that she wrote it. Why not?

Your dad may have written it and explained it to you later.

I'm not saying he did. I'm saying there's no proof that...

Of course there isn't. But come on! He didn't write it. He couldn't have.

Even in the year he was well, he couldn't work.

You know that. You're supposed to be a scientist.

Here's my suggestion. I know three or four guys at the department, sharp, disinterested people, who knew your dad's work.

I'll take this to them. What?

I'll tell them that we found something potentially major.

We're not sure of the authorship. I'll sit with them.

We'll talk through it, and we'll figure out what we've got.

It might take a couple days, but then we'd have a lot more information.

I think that's an excellent suggestion.

You can't. Catherine.

You can't take it. I am not taking it.

This is exactly what you wanted. Oh, come on. Jesus...

You don't waste any time, do you? It's no hesitation.

You can't wait to show them your brilliant discovery.

I am trying to determine what this is. I'm telling you what it is.

You don't know! I wrote it!

It is your father's handwriting!

At least, it looks an awful lot like the writing in the other books.

Maybe your writing looks exactly like his. I don't know.

It does look like his.

I mean, it's one of his notebooks, the exact same kind he used.

I told you. He gave it to me.

I didn't show this to anyone.

I wanted you to be the first to see it. I didn't know I wanted that until last night.

I trusted you. I know.

Was I wrong? No.

I should've known that she wouldn't believe me, but why don't you?

I know how hard it would be to come up with something like this.

You'd have to be your dad at the peak of his powers.

Just because you and the rest of the geeks worshipped him does not mean he wrote the proof.

He was the best. My generation hasn't produced anything like him.

He revolutionized the field twice before he was 22.

I am sorry. You took some classes at Northwestern for a few months.

My education wasn't at Northwestern! Even so, it doesn't matter.

It's too advanced. I don't even understand most of it.

You think it's too advanced? Yes.

It's too advanced for you.

You could not have done this work.

But what if I did? Well, what if?

It would be a real disaster for you.

Wouldn't it?

You and the other geeks who barely finished your PhD's, who are marking time doing lame research, bragging about the conferences they go to.


Playing in an awful band and whining that they're intellectually past it at 26, because they are!




When are you going to do some mathematics with me?

I can't think of anything worse. You want some Parmesan?

I'm all alone. I have important things to say, and you're not helping.

You used to love it. Not anymore.

You knew prime numbers before you could read.

Well, now I've forgotten. Don't be lazy, Catherine!

I haven't been lazy. I've been taking care of you.

You dropped out of school. You sleep till noon.

You eat junk. You don't work. Dishes pile up in the sink.

Some days you don't even get out of bed. Those are the good days.

They're fever days and you sweated them away. You'll never know what work you lost because you were moping, moping in your unmade bad. Always moping.

Up until four in the afternoon sometimes, Catherine.

I have you on my clock. You know I'm right.

You know, I'm told by some very important people. You know I know.

I've lost a few days. How many?

I don't know. I bet you do. I bet you count.

Knock it off. How many days have you lost?

A month. Around a month. Exactly.

Dad, eat your dinner. How many?

33 days. Be precise, for Christ's sake.

I slept till noon today.

Make it 33 and a quarter days.

Yeah, all right.

You're kidding. No.

Amazing number. It's a depressing fucking number.

If every day you lost were a year, it would be a very interesting fucking number.

33 and a quarter years is not interesting. Stop it. You know exactly what I mean.

1729 weeks. 1729. Great number.

The smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.

12 cubed plus 1 cubed equals 1729.

And 10 cubed plus 9 cubed... Yes, we've got it. Thank you.

You see?

Even your depression is mathematical.

Stop moping.

Do some work.

Take a look.


Katie, honey?


I figured out how to get a lower bound for L.

Modification of Landau-Siegel.

What if this L had a Siegel zero?

You'd need an effective version.





What? Aah! Jesus!

God, you scared me. What are you doing there?

Sorry. I just... I wanted to...

It's wonderful news.

I think I've got it.



Katie, what is it? It's not mine. It's not mine!

It's not mine. It's his. It's not mine. What, honey?

It's not mine. It's not mine. What, honey? What's the matter?

I stole it from him. I stole it. It's not mine.

What do you mean, you stole it? It's not mine.


I killed him. I killed him. No, honey. No.

I never should have written it. I never should have written it.

OK. You're OK. I never should have written it.

Is it...? Is it possible, honey, that...?

Is it possible that you just wanted to so badly and you... you deserved to do something special like this thing, this proof?

Is it possible that you just imagined that you wrote it?


Is it possible that it really was Dad's after all?


Is that possible?

You didn't kill him, sweetheart.

He just died, that's all.

He just died.

Hi. We're not here. Please leave a message.

Catherine. It's me again. I really need to speak to you.

So please call me back.

Can I take these for you?


I thought you'd left. I had to delay my flight.

Where's Catherine? I need to talk to her.

She's inside. This thing... checks out.

I've been over it with two sets of guys, old geeks and young geeks.

It's weird.

I don't know where the techniques come from, it is very hard to follow, but we can't find anything wrong with it.

I mean, there may be something wrong with it, but we can't find it.

I have not slept.

It's real.

Thank you.

See, I had to swear these guys to secrecy.

They were jumping out of their skins.

One email, it's all over.

I threatened them. Yeah, I think we're safe.

They're physical cowards.

Where's Catherine? This is not a good time.

You're leaving?

The flight is at noon. You're taking her away?


To New York? Yes.

You're just gonna drag her away? She's entirely happy to come.

I'd like to speak to Catherine. She doesn't want to see you.

Does she have any say in whether she goes?

She's been completely out of it, Hal.

Five days she wasn't speaking.

Do you want your coat, sweetie? It's cold.

I'll get your things. The movers will get anything we've forgotten.

Are you all right?

It works.

I thought you might wanna know.

I had to see you. I'm leaving.

Just wait a minute. What? What do you want?

You have the book. She told me that she gave it to you, so do whatever you want with it.

Publish. Go for it. Have a press conference.

Tell the world what my father discovered.

I don't think your father wrote it.

You thought so last week. That was last week.

I spent this week reading the proof. I think I understand it.

It uses a lot of newer mathematical techniques, things that were developed in the '80s and '90s.

Noncommutative geometry, random matrices.

I think I learned more mathematics this week than in three years of grad school.

So? So the proof is very... hip. Get some sleep, Hal.

What was your father doing for 20 years? Are you done?

He wouldn't have been able to master those new techniques.

He was a genius. But he was nuts.

So he read about them later. Maybe.

The books he would've needed are upstairs in your room, some of them.

He dated everything. Even his most incoherent entries, he dated.

There are no dates in this. The handwriting.

Parents and children can have similar handwriting, especially if they've spent a lot of time together.

Interesting theory.

I like it.

I like it, too.

It's what I told you last week.

I know.

You blew it. This is yours, Catherine.

It's too bad, too, 'cause the rest of it was really good.

"I loved your dad." "I always liked you." "I wanna spend every minute with you."

That's killer stuff.

I meant it.

You got laid and you got the notebook. You're a genius.

Talk to me, Catherine.

This proof is yours. Forget it.

You'll have to deal with it eventually. You can't just ignore it.

You'll have to publish. Leave me alone, Hal.

Take it at least. I don't want it.

Come on. I am trying to correct things. You can't!

Do you hear me?

You think you've figured something out?

You run over here all pleased with yourself because you changed your mind?

Now you're certain? Hal, you don't know anything.

The book, the math, the dates, the writing, all that stuff you just decided with your buddies, it's just evidence.

It doesn't prove anything. OK, what would?


You should've trusted me.


I know.

Claire sold the house?

She wants me in New York. She wants to look after me.

What? Do you need looking after? You looked after your father for five years.

So maybe it's my turn. There is nothing wrong with you.

We should be on our way, honey.

You can't just walk away, pretend like it never happened and then get a job at Urban Outfitters or something.

Just take it. Katie, honey, let's go.

Stay in Chicago. You're an adult.

I gotta go.

Please. No.

Catherine, this isn't about me. Katie, come on.

Don't you owe this to yourself at least?

Goodbye, Hal.



Hi. And where are you going today? To New York City.

Can I see some photo ID, please?

Wow. You sure got a lot done.

Well, I had five extra days.

I need some more coffee. Do you want some?

Am I on that list?


"Square away crazy sister."


That's not fair, Katie.

I just wanna take care of you.


What? Aah! Jesus!

God, you scared me. What are you doing there?

Sorry. I just... I wanted to...

It's wonderful news.

I think I've got it.

What do you think?

Wow, Dad. Can you believe it?

I knew you had it in you.

That's a pretty mealy-mouthed response.

What about it? What do you think? Let's talk it through.

Not tonight. I'm tired.

Come on. This is the beginning of our real work together.

You think I've stolen the thunder because I broke through first?

This is only the beginning.

I think we should call it a night. Read out the first couple of lines.

We go line by line out loud, see if there's a better way, a shorter way.

No. Come on. Tomorrow.

I've waited years for this, goddamn it.

Let's do some work together. Dad, I think we should get some sleep.

Not until we talk about the proof! I don't want to talk about it.

Goddammit, open the goddamn book! Read me the lines!

"Let X equal the quantity of all quantities of X.

"Let X equal the cold.

"It is cold in December.

"The months of cold equal November through February.

"There are four months of cold and four of heat, "leaving four months of indeterminate temperature.

"In February. It snows.

"In March. The lake is a lake of ice.

"In September. The students come back

"and the bookstores are full.

"Let X equal the month of full bookstores.

"The number of books approaches infinity

"as the number of months of cold approaches four.

"I will never be as cold now as I will in the future.

"The future of cold is infinite.

"The future of heat is the future of cold.

"The bookstores are infinite

"and so are never full except in September."

I'm exhausted.

I can't wait to get back to the coffee at home.

We have a place where we buy coffee. They roast it themselves.

They have an old roaster down in the basement. You can smell it on the street.

Some mornings you can smell it from our place, four stories up. It's wonderful.

"Manhattan's Best." Some magazine wrote it up.

I mean, who knows?

But it's very good.

I think...

I'm actually gonna give up coffee 'cause it's bad for my nerves.



How many days have I lost?

How can I get back to the place where I started?

I'm outside a house. Trying to find my way in.

But it is locked and the blinds are down.

And I've lost the key.

And I can't remember what the rooms look like or where I put anything.

And if I dare go in inside. I wonder...

will I ever be able to find my way out?

Sometimes in my head I think it works, and then...

Sometimes I just think it's... crazy.

There's nothing wrong with you.

I think I'm like my dad.

I think you are, too.

I'm afraid I'm like my dad.

You are not him. Maybe I will be.

Maybe, and maybe you'll be better.

It was like... connecting the dots.

Some nights I could connect three or four of them, and some nights they'd be really far apart.

I'd have no idea how to get to the next one, if there was the next one.

It just seems really stitched together and lumpy.

Dad's stuff was way more elegant.

Talk me through it and tell me what's bothering you.

You got a bit of ground to make up, Dobbs.

You know that?

And there's no way to prove that I wrote it.

No. But we could sit down, we could talk it through and determine if you couldn't have.

If I go back to the beginning. I could start it over again.


I could go line by line.

Try and find a shorter way.

There are a lot of...

I could try to make it...