Doubt is the adaptation of the Pulitzer Price winning play by John Patrick Shanley, who wrote the screenplay and directed the movie as well. It stars Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis.
St. Nicholas is a catholic church and school. They have the first black student in 1964, who gets singled out by the priest, Father Brendan [Philip Seymour Hoffman], for special attention. After some incidents, a young nun, Sister James [Amy Adams], raises the suspicion that Father Brendan might be abusing the boy. Her superior, Sister Aloysius [Meryl Streep], starts a private war against the priest, trying to prove that he’s guilty.
Doubt has an exceptional screenplay with brilliant casting, showing a battle of wits between Father Brendan and Sister Aloysius that is a feast to watch. Unfortunately, the directing can’t keep up with the standards the writing and acting sets.
The strongest point of this movie is the screenplay, in my opinion. Every word said can be taken apart and it will reveal another meaning, a hidden one. It really makes you want to watch the movie again because it makes you feel like you missed about a hundred things when seeing it for the first time.
But also the characters – all of them were strong, up to the old nuns living in the convent/school/whatever you call it. And the kids in Sister James’ class…
Given these strong characters and the good writing, it was of course, great to see such good actors like Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Viola Davis perform. It was absolutely terrific. The casting itself was perfect and their playing was just fantastic.
Unfortunately, I found Amy Adams a bit of a weak point. She wasn’t really bad and she too, was very well cast. But it’s hard to hold your own amidst this cast and Amy Adams couldn’t. She completely went under and remained a colourless spot. [I really don’t understand why she got nominated for an Oscar.]
The story is interesting and well done. I loved that [SPOILERS!] you never find out whether he actually did it or not. Although I’m convinced that he did. [/SPOILERS!] But also the details – same as the words spoken, you can take every act and use it as a new starting point to look at the story in another way. [If for example William London (Mike Roukis) had acted differently, I don’t know if I would have made the same conclusions.]
The weakest thing though, was the directing. There were a lot of shots of leaves, which left me puzzled, but what really got on my nerves where the endless shots with the camera at a diagonal level. It always made me want to tip my head ever so slightly to adjust for it. I’m surprised that I didn’t get a cramp in the neck.
But apart from that, it had me gripping my seat and absolutely glued to the screen. I wanted to know what happened and I wasn’t once bored [I was afraid that I probably might be… It seems that at the moment I get bored quite easily. Maybe I’m just tired, but maybe the internets are destroying my attention span].
Definitely a movie you should watch. And definitely a movie to see more than once. Absolute recommendation.
As a small sidenote:
Before the movie started, they threw me a little off, I have to admit. Before They showed two trailers: One for Up [which looks very cute] and the other one I don’t remember right now, but it was in the same category as Up. What did they want to tell me with this? That Doubt is quality family entertainment? That there’s kids in Doubt, so there must be kids in the audience? Huh…