Thursday, January 08, 2009

My Thumb Sideways (Maybe Up): Doubt

Starring: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams
Co-Starring: Viola Davis
Rated PG-13 for mature theme.

After my rather lengthy reviews of Milk, The Reader, and The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, I will spare you on my summation of Doubt.

Directed by John Patrick Shanley, and based on his play of the same name, Doubt is the story of parish priest Father Flynn (Hoffman), his relationship with a pupil who is the son of Mrs. Miller (Davis), and the suspicions of nuns Sister Aloysius (Streep) and Sister James (Adams).

I really don't have much to say. The audience is presented with the same set of circumstantial evidence as the main characters and asked to decided whether he did it or not.

It was difficult for me to relate. I'm not religious. I don't, and never did, go to church even though I was baptized a Catholic. I went to public school and commuted to a Franciscan college. I was never sexually abused. This movie would be drastically different to a viewer who had something in common with any of the characters.

What I Liked
• The acting. Streep is getting all the buzz but I think her job was the easiest since the character was quite extreme. It's tougher to be convincing in subtle roles and Hoffman, Adams, and Davis turn in notable performance.
• The settings. Exteriors were filmed in The Bronx and interiors came complete with peeling paint.
• The costumes. Pure 1964.
• An exploration of the odd dynamic between the Catholic Church, the priests, the male hierarchy, altar boys, and their parents. It seems to be an odd dance. I remember growing up that there were always comments about the Catholic priests. When the shit hit the fan in the 1990's, it seemed like everyone was surprised it was happening. Well, not from where I'm sitting. I wonder how many were complicit in the whole affair.

What I Didn't Like
• The camera angles were a bit Orson Wells-ish. I suppose if you're going to copy someone, you could choose worse.

If you're looking for a finely acted film, I give Doubt my thumb sideways. If you can relate to any part of the Catholic Church's molestation scandal, I would give it a thumb up for you.


Acid Reflux ( said...

I've been wanting to see this movie. Sounds like I should be getting to it. I wasn't sure whether I was going to let it go to DVD first. I definitely want to see The Reader!

Y | O | Y said...

I'd be interested in what you think of both. Come back and comment!

Next up for me is Slumdog Millionaire...probably early next week.

Mark H said...

MAYBE it IS my religious background, and even though Rodger is not religious, he was raised in that environment...we, and friends, have all been in love with the play. I wonder if part of that was the fact the priest was played by a truly young handsome actor....some kind of actor you wouldn't WANT to be guilty.

Truly loved the fact that in the PLAY, they didn't point out that the Priest was probably guilty, hence, "DOUBT".......I don't like that the movie does it too clearly. But it's a great screenplay!