The Naked Proof
review by KJ Doughton, 20 June 2003

Seattle International Film Festival 2003

Henry Rawitscher (Michael Chick) is the confused, unhappy hero of The Naked Proof, Jamie Hook’s thoughtful coupling of philosophy and romance. A Seattle Barton Fink who teaches philosophy instead of writing plays, Henry is one of those humorless masters students who attends college "burlesque" parties (requiring a nudie picture for admission), and drunkenly ponders what is real and what’s not. "As a philosopher," he insists, "it’s my job to question reality."

In fact, Henry spends much of The Naked Proof attempting to complete a dissertation questioning whether or not one can prove the existence of other people. Appearing as a flustered, younger David Letterman, this professional pessimist soon finds his life invaded by Miriam, a pregnant woman who may or may not be the real deal. Is Henry having a breakdown, conjuring up this assertive houseguest as a psychotic hallucination? Or is Miriam a flesh and blood mother-to-be whose presence will force Henry to drop his philosophical objectivity and embrace her warmth?

While Chick’s eccentric character might inhabit center-stage, The Naked Proof is clearly a director’s film. Jamie Hook, co-founder of Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum and a prolific producer of numerous local plays and movies, has populated his latest foray into feature films with supporting characters that Kubrick and the Coen Brothers would drool over. Dean Rathbun (Matt Smith), Henry’s financial aid provider and mentor, emerges as some kind of philosophy Antichrist, barking, "You show up, you play ball, and you’re a philosopher. Take this sh*t too seriously, and you’ll go nuts."

Meanwhile, there’s a spacey bellhop dressed in the black skinny tie and white waiter’s shirt of a rabid Knack fan, getting way too personal with Miriam as she checks in at a hotel. "I have a step uncle and a step grandmother," he proclaims, hovering over the soon-to-pop guest like a love-starved puppy as he reveals such unsolicited family revelations.

Hook’s apparent disdain for philosophy is echoed during a hilarious scene staged at a Chinese buffet, where Dissertation Committee members endure a sensationally absurd Keynote Speaker addressing The Objectivity of Blue and Yellow Balls. "The balls in my hands are subjective properties that may or may not exist," the pompous ass exclaims. Meanwhile, an attending professor chuckles, "Philosophy is a gerontocracy – we older people get to make things up."

As Henry’s search for truth winds down, The Naked Proof ends on a touching, surprisingly emotional note. Like Miriam, the here-again, gone-again presence that complicates Henry’s life, such feelings come out of left field and refuse to go away.

Seattle International Film Festival:



Directed by:
Jamie Hook

Michael Chick
Arlette Del Toro
Charles Mudede
August Wilson

NR - Not Rated.
This film has not
been rated.






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