Director: John Patrick Shanley
Cast: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis
The Buzz: Nominated in Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress (2) and Best Adapted Screenplay categories
The Run: Won SAG Award for Best Actress
Triumph Of Faith
When I think of Doubt, the first adjective that springs up in mind is “neat”. Yes, Doubt is a neat and clean film with no “artsy pretensions”, no unnecessary plot points and no unwarranted need to clarify itself. With names such as Meryl Streep, Philip Hoffman and now Amy Adams, the performances were bound to get your attention first and they do indeed.
Doubt is set in the post war America at a time when the Beatles were gaining momentum and follows three individuals, all connected to a Christian school/convent. Father Flynn played by Philip Seymour Hoffman is a compassionate individual who believes that the Church must change with the changing times and loosen its strict moral codes. Sister Aloysius (the ever-imposing Meryl Streep) stands diametrically opposite to Flynn and is literally old school. She hates ball point pens and believes that the church should carefully disengage itself from the people it serves. And caught between these two adversarial ideologies is Sister James (a charming Amy Adams), an impressionable novice who struggles to come to terms with what she has learnt about the church and what she sees. Shanley’s astonishing execution deliberately does not implicate anyone in the story nor does it hint that no one is to be blamed. It cleverly places its audience in the shoes of every character, in turns. It bestows the characters’ prejudices on to the audience, never once allowing it to comfortably judge the characters.
Shanley adapted the film from a play and it shows. His attempts to provide that extra dimension to his script fall flat at some places as his metaphors become forced. But heck, no use of cribbing about such negligible issues when a large part of the film just sweeps you off the feet. The Academy has made a grave mistake by excluding it from the best picture category this year. And the same goes for Shanley who has become the Joe Wright of the year.