. 2/07/2009

Doubt Movie Poster Thanks to my new best friend, mininova.org, I was able to see Doubt days before it opens in theaters here in Manila. And yes, I got a very clear copy, thank you very much.

I was very excited to download Doubt because this year it is nominated for 5 Oscars. And everyone is raving about Viola Davis’ performance and Meryl Streep historic 15th Oscar acting nomination. For that alone, this is a must see.

The movie is set in 1964, at St. Nicholas Church / School in Bronx. It’s a power struggle between the school principal, a nun played by Streep, who believes in the power of fear and discipline (think Etang Discher) and a popular priest, Father Flynn, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is trying to change the school’s strict customs and maybe try to be, uh, cool. In the midst of all the political tug of war is Sister James, played by Amy Adams, a naive nun who has suspicions about Father Flynn’s relationship with one of the altar boys. Juicy. In the mix is Mrs. Miller (Davis), the mother of the alleged victim of molestation.

Now, I am was a Catholic. Went to a Catholic school from pre-school to high school. Heard mass as often as I could. Was a part of the church choir. Naturally, I am intrigued and yes I have my biases.

But first a few talking points…


Cast of Doubt

This is the most Oscar nominated acting ensemble since 2002’s Chicago. In fact, it duplicate all of Chicago’s acting nominations: 2 for Supporting Actress (Davis, Adams / Queen Latifah, Catherine Zeta Jones), 1 for Supporting Actor (Hofman / John C. Reilly) and 1 for Lead Actress (Streep / Renee Zellweger).

Philip Seymour Hoffman is definitely the lead. Why he campaigned for supporting actor is beyond me. Still, this was a good performance from Hoffman. He plays the creepy guy very well (yes, father Flynn creeped the hell out of me). It’s almost unfair to the character that Hoffman is tapped to play him. I mean, just one look at Hoffman and my brain is screaming “pedophile, pedophile!”

Amy Adams, was good, but then again she can play this role in her sleep. We’ve seen her many times before played a variation of the innocent naive hopeful anything. Think, Enchanted. Is this performance Oscar-worthy? I say NO!

The always amazing Streep was again the star of the show. This woman is a legend. Will she win this year’s Oscar? I am guessing no. It seems like it’s Kate Winslet’s year. But I just realized that the last time Streep won an Oscar was 1982. That is such a crime.


Doubt Davis Now much has been said about Viola Davis’ performance. I think she’s great in this movie. But is she as good as what the others say? No. I didn’t think so. She appears in only 2 scenes in the  movie, one of them the most talked about scene with Streep, and I felt underwhelmed. It was like a “is that it?” moment for me. Perhaps, a second viewing will make me change my mind.

Over-all, I say Doubt is one of the best films of 2008 I have seen. The acting was good, not great, but still good. The movie was well written (adapted by John Patrick Shanley from his own play, he directs too), especially the dramatic climax between the Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn and the “gossip” parable.

However, I think it failed on two things. One, in the middle of the film, it seems to propose a “did he do it?’ question for the viewers which was never really fully fulfilled. As the story progresses, it seems to challenge the viewers to cast, well, doubt on Father’s Flynn’s character and Sister Aloysious’ suspicions. Instead, it makes the viewer decide and take sides early on. You don’t really flip flop as the premise of the movie suggest. You become a lawyer for either the charismatic priest and try to defend him, or be on the stern nun’s side and try to persecute with her.

Finally, the ending. I was satisfied with the ending. It felt like it was the right thing for the writer to do. But one thing that bugs me is, the last line. I never realized until now how the last dialogue could ruin an entire movie.

Doubt Streep Doubt is currently showing theaters in Manila.


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