Friday, January 02, 2009

"Doubt" (2008) - Movie Review

“Doubt” is a display of performers doing their best within four walls of mistrust, suspicion, blame and disagreement in between each other. It evolved into screen from a play written by John Patrick Shanley to the screenplay and directed too by him with an awareness of its cast. It has Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in for their part of each stand. One a friendlier and comforting Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the other side of this is the strict rule book and old traditional obstinate Sister Aloysius Beauvier and the calm and novice Sister James (Amy Adams). Each have their doubts and that becomes the steering wheel for the film.

I saw the film twice as the first time was after a long day and long stretch of films. While the strength of the film which is the performance is unshakeable, its take on the point of the film never arriving to conclusion made it incomplete. While that is the intention of the director it felt like an army waiting for its attack order in the battle front never getting it at all. The movie is magnificent in its actors performing the dialogues. It is not the style of tennis rally exchange of words which is prominent in plays based films but sporadic elocution from one to another with the suspicion and subtle reference given more stress than the usual.

“Doubt” has characters speaking meaning one thing and assuming the other person understand the matter of subject clearly even though there is a great region of unsureness in it. What makes “Doubt” a powerful script is when the arguments happen in the closed rooms of Sister Aloysius and her stubbornness not enough for that room. She firmly and in complete conviction that Father Flynn’s reputation is a web of inappropriateness after a hearsay of hazed version of events from Sister James of a student of hers Donald Miller (Joseph Foster II) gets special attention from Father Flynn.

Sister James a naive and cheery little teacher we all would adored to have had in our school days. On normal days she would not have seen the chain of events in Father Flynn calling Miller to rectory and the sadness in the boy later as something to be doubted upon. But Sister Aloysius alerts every one in her dining table of the changes happening in the school by the newly winged Father Flynn not saying his name though. This seeds of suspicion does not take much time to put the pieces together and cause distress and unsettling feeling for Sister James.

Streep and Hoffman are the key characters when the screen lights up. Hoffman as he does his role spectacularly with the slightest body language to the precise movement stands his ground in the accusations by Streep’s character. But as the adamance of Sister Aloysius grows we begin to see a shade of lie. We have been influenced by hr too. The film rumbles us with those vacillating look on him. And purely on evidence basis nothing crops up even Sister Aloysius goes to great stretch in talking with the boy’s mother (Viola Davis) only to hit a wall and learn new things.

What to conclude and what to believe is the doubt the film wants to pose on us. But the uncertainty is not the art out here but a feeling which resides in us so thoroughly which we do not want to witness. In this confrontation we leave the theatre with a restless feeling of not knowing the truth. The truth as we know never exists in its purest form. It exists only the heads of each of us. Anything coming out in the middle of this open area is an attempt for its purity. The doubt hence becomes the truth in a different form and of course varies in the people’s perspective making it unsure of anything. This confusion is a never ending process and haunts us beyond what we could imagine.

I liked the film and the performances especially which it crowns upon. It did not satisfy me as the nature of the film in giving that exact feeling would be a success for it. I do not want a point or message or anything from a film. It is derived from the experience. Sometimes having nothing becomes the theme and some times it is out on the open to observe and dissect. “Doubt” is the one which you are never strong of. Strangely the character of Streep firmly believes in her gut feeling. Amy Adams in Sister James is the confused one as the audience while Hoffman’s character is the ambiguous in exterior but perfectly knows the truth in his heart. Symbolically I appreciate the film and I would suggest any one to watch it. My dissatisfaction in this case becomes the success of the film.

No comments: