The Nominations:

The Black-and-White:

A review by Moviegirl

The Pewter Plough Playhouse in Cambria is currently featuring a production of the play on which this film is based, Doubt: A Parable. The website describes the play as “an eloquent, provacative investigation of truth and consequences” and “a gripping mystery.”

And here’s how the website describes the film:

The arrival of a progressive priest at a Bronx Catholic school in 1964 leads to a confrontation with the tradition-minded nun who serves as its principal. When Sister Aloysius suspects that Father Flynn may be taking an excessive interest in the school’s first African-American student, she responds with a headstrong determination that is either a necessary defense of an abused boy or a heedless condemnation of an innocent man.

Truthfully, I found the film neither eloquent nor provacative. Nor was I “gripped” by the “mystery” (a fancy way of saying “contrived ambiguity”) of the ending.

Even though the acting was as good as you might expect from four actors who have 20 Oscar nominations among them — and it is a credit to the actors that they were all nominated for their performances, while Shanley was passed over for his role in directing them — I simply didn’t care about the “truth” or the “consequences” by the time we got to the end of the movie. I just wanted to stop being subjected to the weird camera angles and the oppressive tone.

This is not an uncommon problem for movies that are made from plays, especially movies that are directed by the playwright from a script that he adapted from his own play. But it is particularly disappointing from someone like Shanley, whose Oscar-nominated writing in Moonstruck was effervescent, poignant, earnest, and hilarious all at once and who has directed before (c’mon you guys, Joe Versus the Volcano counts).

And between this and the three other nominees for adapted screenplay that I’ve seen already, I just don’t see that this showed any real imagination in how it was translated to the screen. It still felt like a play to me. More than that, it still felt like a parable that was trying to get away with calling itself a play.

Perhaps it’s just that I’m tired of this genre. Other people really liked this film and you might, too. But I doubt it.

2 Responses to Doubt

  1. ladyoscar23 says:

    Hey, Joe Versus the Volcano is a highly underrated film! I’ll take your word for it on Doubt, though.

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