Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Doubt" now an Oscar nominated play...

"Doubt" now an Oscar nominated play...

We are a media obsessed nation that has created a media obsessed world. No matter how many Tonies a play wins, it will gross only a fraction of an Oscar-winning film. Therefore, the marketing trick for John Patrick Shanley was to make “Doubt” his Tony award winning play, into a Hollywood vehicle that would ensure Oscars, thus $$$. To guarantee this success Oscar favorites Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman were cast as clergy and Howard Shore composed an appropriate if typical score. The plot follows a battle for power that ignites when a catholic school’s principle, Sister Beauvier (Streep) accuses the priest, Father Brendan Flynt (Hoffman), of molesting the school’s only black student. Though the story is simple and timely, it takes place in the pre-sex scandal days of 1964, which makes the reproach and the surrounding secrecy all the more compelling.

Sarcasm aside, no two screen actors could proffer as much anticipation of genius acting as the Streep/Hoffman duo. Both deliver their usual great performances, though Streep’s characterization as a militant nun is especially convincing. Each of her gestures depicts the restraint of her service, and the emotions dwelling beneath. Gendered behaviors are perhaps exaggerated for symbolism, and just as Sister Beauvier keeps a tense face and controlled attitude, Hoffman as Father Flynt, appears relaxed and jolly (that is before the insinuations begin.)

Though the script is as open and ambiguous as the title suggests, the audience cannot help but search desperately for Father Flynt’s truth, (debates between audience members will ensue as the credits roll.) Cameras offer tight cantered close-ups of the expert actors that reveal mystery and depths of emotion. Even so, "Doubt" seems to favor a theatrical setting, the mysterious dialogue cannot be improved with camera angles and the symbolism is at moments too overt for cinematic realism.

1 comment:

Zak said...

I expect I will never watch this.