Doubt

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Postby Big Magilla » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:34 pm

Mister Tee wrote:I'm not quite ready to bet on Adams...but if she ends up an unlikely victor, I want to be down as the first to suggest the possibility.

You may be onto something. Entertainment Weekly's current issue showcases one of the nominees in the top six categories in its current issue. They are Slumdog, Danny Boyle, Mickey Rourke, Kate Winslet, Heath Ledger and...Amy Adams.

I'm not sure they highlight Adams because they think she's the likely winner (they don't actually say) or because they don't have a clue so they are going alphabetically with the category.

Reminds me of my allusion to The Song of Bernadette's four acting nominees in roles similar to Doubt's four - a doubting nun (Gladys Cooper), a beloved priest (Charles Bickford), a mother (Anne Revere) and a novice (Jennifer Jones). The novice won, albeit in the lead category.

Adams does fit the profile of the typical supporting actress winner...young, up and coming and the best looking nominee.

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Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:15 pm

As I was watching the film, and more or less enjoying it, I wondered to myself, why did the play feel so glib? And then the last scenes came, and I remembered and re-experienced it.

Shanley sets up a potential Did he or didn't he? scenario, and then utterly fails to write the scenes that clinch it. Fr. Flynn crumbles far too easily, on far too lilttle evidence, for it to be credible that he's innocent. Streep's character then expressing her "doubt" a scene later is trying to buy ambiguity on the cheap. A better writer would have found a way to write that final confrontation -- or spread it out over a couple of scenes -- so that we weren't sure of Flynn's culpability but we would have seen that Sr. Aloysius had so much circumstantial evidence on him that it would have been futile for him to fight. All this work still wouldn't have made it the masterpiece over-generous theatre critics claimed to see, but it would have made it a fuller play and, now, movie.

As far as how it's made: apart from the hokey horror-film touches (swirling leaves, indeed), it had a nice feel that certainly brought back many elements of my grade school days.

Streep worked for me, even if she took it into heightened-archetype territory. As younger folk around me hooted and laughed, I felt like screaming to them, You don't understand; there WERE nuns like that, and we let them terrorize us. Not career-capping Oscar win territory, but solid.

I didn't think Hoffman carried the weight of his Happiness persona, as I'd feared. He seemed very regular-guy, get along with the kids charming. And I don't see how anyone can suggest him for supporting with a straight face.

Years ago, a friend of mine years ago made me aghast by saying he liked On Golden Pond. He quickly added, But I'd seen it on stage, and you have no idea how much broader the performances were. In that vein, I'd like to praise Amy Adams. I thought of the role of Sr. James as thankless, chiefly because the actress I saw do it on stage (name expunged from memory) played her as an insufferable ninny -- apparently the only way she could think to suggest innocence. Amy Adams, of course, exudes innocence from every pore, leaving her free to play it straight. I think she's wonderful in the part. Viola Davis, as widely expected, takes her bravura scene and rides it home; I can certainly understand all the praise for her. But Adams has probably five times as much screen time, and is a far more central character. I'm thinking about the 1977 Oscars, when the race appeared to be between Alec Guinness and Maximillian Schell's dynamic cameo in Julia -- and instead Jason Robards surprised most by winning the trophy. I'm not quite ready to bet on Adams...but if she ends up an unlikely victor, I want to be down as the first to suggest the possibility.

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Postby Movielover » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:13 pm

Someone below posted that he must be guilty because otherwise why would Flynn have left. But you can't really say that because he could have left to get Sister Aloysius off his back and he could have left because he felt temptations and didn't want to give in to them.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I was at the play opening night. I was standing right behind Philip Seymour Hoffman when they took our tickets. Little did I know that was a historical evening for him as he wound up being cast in it. But he is wrong for the part - you KNOW that he did it - come on - it's Philip Seymour Hoffman!

I can just say that after the play hoardes of people gathered in circles - people who didn't know one another - would discuss if he did it or not. My belief is that it isn't about whether he did or didn't do it. The full title of the play is Doubt: A Parable. This leads me to believe the play is about what people do when they have convictions about something but cannot be positive about it. THAT IS IT!!! It is about having doubts... And Shanley brilliant created an environment where he incorporated racism and other social issues through which we explore the theme of doubt.

Think about this:
A friend is supposed to go to your birthday party. They cancel at the last minute. The friend has done this MANY times before. She says that she isn't feeling well. You believe, but don't know for certain, that she feels fine - she's just too lazy to come, maybe something better came along, etc. It is about how we react in these situations. What is right and what is wrong? Of course this situation doesn't have the same stakes as the ones explored in the play. But it is more about this theme than it is about child molestation and did he or didn't he do it.

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Postby rolotomasi99 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:24 pm

flipp525 wrote:Only at the end of the film/play does she realize that she still has "doubt" about what exactly had happened with Donald.

i took the "doubt" for sister alyousious to be of faith. how can she belong to a religion which protects and even rewards child molestors? in her big confrontation with father flynn, she tells him she will leave the church altoghether if he refuses to leave. i do not think she had any doubts about whether flynn was guilty of molesting at least one kid at her parish. like she said, he would not have left if her bluff was not correct.
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Postby flipp525 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:59 am

We've been over this already. It's still ambiguous at the conclusion of the film whether or not Father Flynn molested Donald Miller. What's not ambiguous is that something occurred at the last school which is why Father Flynn didn't fight things when Sister Alyousious said that she had spoken to nuns at this former parish (a bluff which ended up working in her favor). Only at the end of the film/play does she realize that she still has "doubt" about what exactly had happened with Donald.



Edited By flipp525 on 1232643703
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Postby rolotomasi99 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:50 am

The Original BJ wrote:SPOILERS...

After seeing the play, my entire family of five was completely convinced Father Flynn was guilty. We couldn't understand how that conclusion could possibly be interpreted as ambiguous.

I will say that I thought the film balanced it out a little -- in no way did that kid look molested -- but I still couldn't imagine people walking away with vastly different opinions. (I'd heard stories of couples walking away with completely different thoughts...and then having them reversed next time they saw the play...which completely baffles me.)

Is it really Streep's last line that's supposed to make this ambiguous?

i think he was guilty, but i think shanley wanted it to be ambigous because that is usually how these cases go. he titled it doubt for a reason. without clear physical evidence (which there usually is none with molestation), a confession from the accused is the only way to be sure.

i agree with the streep character's reasoning that he would not have resigned if her bluff had not been true. however, i think she was correct about the crime but wrong about the victim.

i think it was not the boy she thought, but the blonde trouble maker who the priest molested. if you watch the reaction shots of the two boys carefully in the scene when the priest is saying good-bye to his congregation, the blonde-haired kid is smiling while the black-haired kid is in tears. whether hoffman's character had intentions to molest the crying boy or not is unclear, but i think the smiling boy had already been a victim and was happy to see the priest go.
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Postby dylanfan23 » Fri Jan 16, 2009 7:18 pm

I thought there was a lot to like about the film. I was into the story and very much into the characters. Unfortunately there was wasn't much there beyond this situation and the final scene just didn't hit the notes it should or could have and that really brought the whole film down a notch. Much like the play, i thought the characters and job done by the actors were the best part of the film. The characters are well written and the dialogue rings true in just about every scene. I give high marks for all four actors.

I am in the group that loves streep and i have loved her recent work in adaptation, praire home companion, devil wears prada, hours, angels in america ect. I thought she was perfect in depicting her character. Was she better than winslet or hathaway or hawkins? i'm not sure...i probably prefer those 3 over meryl but she deserves the nomination she is going to get.

Hoffman is a lead...i can't believe people haven't had more of a problem with his placement, his placement is far worse than kate winslets or dev patel(both of whom i do consider supporting)...he is a lead and he is very very good. I'm not so sure he wouldn't have squeezed out a nomination if he was billed as a lead. I currently have him in my top five. I was convinced he would gain the admiration of his students and i felt every desperate act during his confrontations with streep...he was in fine form.

Also was amy adams, in her best work since junebug and maybe even better. She in a lot of ways was the pulse of the film and her want for everything to be ok was something i could understand and feel in her face and voice.

Like most have said, viola davis nailed her scene completely...it was a very intense scene and added a whole new element to the story that you don't see coming. Now i thought she couldn't be better but it was only one scene. I would have a hard time nominating her over adams, winslet, cruz, dewitt or even misty upham from frozen river...i haven't seen button or wrestler yet....but i do think the academy will nominate her and she could win, i still think she will win either there or at the sags. I can understand how people are going nuts for her performance because the scene was so good, i just can't get past that it was only one scene, but thats just me.

OK thats it...good film with flaws and great performances.

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Postby Eric » Mon Dec 29, 2008 1:19 pm

FilmFan720 wrote:Has she ever made an unsafe acting choice?

Dan Callahan at Slant seemed to think that the film's saving grace was Streep's unconventional acting choices.

http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/film_review.asp?ID=4018

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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:50 pm

SPOILERS...

After seeing the play, my entire family of five was completely convinced Father Flynn was guilty. We couldn't understand how that conclusion could possibly be interpreted as ambiguous.

I will say that I thought the film balanced it out a little -- in no way did that kid look molested -- but I still couldn't imagine people walking away with vastly different opinions. (I'd heard stories of couples walking away with completely different thoughts...and then having them reversed next time they saw the play...which completely baffles me.)

Is it really Streep's last line that's supposed to make this ambiguous?

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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:37 pm

And that was exemplified in the scene with Hoffman at dinner with his fellow priests.
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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:32 pm

OscarGuy wrote:Ok. I'm curious, not having seen the stage play, what the general consensus is about whether he did it or not. I firmly believed at the end that he did it. I had no doubt whatsoever. So, I'm curious why some people think he's innocent. The cite Streep's final statements that she has doubts about her persecution, but someone else suggested that she has doubts in her faith now that he has gotten his promotion. What is the prevailing sentiment on this? The final confession of doubts was confusing for me as I didn't understand its purpose at all, but the above suggestions have confirmed for me that I believe she now doubts her faith that someone she had no doubt was guilty would get a promotion from the brotherhood.

I took it as a crisis of faith. It was obvious he was guilty or, as she says, he wouldn't have resigned.

The priesthood is a hierarchy, not a brotherhood, though it is very much an old boy's network. He probably convinced the bishop, who didn't want to believe it anyway, that he was being persecuted by a mean old nun, and he rewarded him by making him pastor (head priest) of another parish. As we now know, this was common practice for church officials.

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Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:05 pm

Yes, as we were heading out, my sister did say "well, that ending worked a lot better on stage."
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Postby Penelope » Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:01 pm

OscarGuy wrote:Ok. I'm curious, not having seen the stage play, what the general consensus is about whether he did it or not.

I haven't seen the stage play, but based on the film...SPOILERS....

I don't think he did it with Donald, but I do think he was guilty of it in the past, possibly with William (the blond kid), which is why he finally agreed to go.

Also, I didn't buy Streep's whole "I have doubts" at the end...it just seemed so theatrical, so tacked on as to provide some kind of catharsis, but neither the material nor Streep's performance made it convincing for me.
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Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:53 am

flipp525 wrote:
FilmFan720 wrote:Has she ever made an unsafe acting choice?

I feel like Streep really let herself go some to potentially dangerous, somewhat goofy, places in Adaptation with all sorts of success.

Right after I posted that, her performance in Adaptation popped into my head. She is fun in that role, and does step out of the box. Maybe Spike Jonze is the kind of director she needs.
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Postby flipp525 » Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:50 am

FilmFan720 wrote:Has she ever made an unsafe acting choice?

I feel like Streep really let herself go some to potentially dangerous, somewhat goofy, places in Adaptation with all sorts of success.
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