18 June 2010


With writing like this, who needs cinematography?

Watching "Doubt," it is seems that the script and the story were lifted rather than adapted from the play; the staging, language, story arc, etc. are theatrical and make little to no use of the abilities of the screen image to convey added meaning beyond that which is conveyed by language. (Example: Meryl Streep says something about the wind rising and getting stronger, or "winds of change" and then there is a shot of the wind blowing leaves around her shrouded figure. In the original play, I imagine that a similar line created the atmosphere; in the film, the words are irrelevant if such an image is also employed.)

However, in terms of feminist theory, the film/play is ripe with suggestive moments. The dialogue is fantastic, and many of the tete-a-tete scenes are gripping -- I was almost breathless in one scene between Meryl Streep's powerful and comparatively privileged and sheltered nun and a poor black woman trying desperately to keep herself and her son alive between an abusive husband/father and a hostile community. There is plenty of commentary on male privilege and class privilege in the film -- including several hilarious cuts from the priests wining and dining riotously to the nuns eating ascetically in silence. Philip Seymour Hoffman's abusive priest employs almost every silencing trick in the Patriarchy's book when he tries to get Streep's character to drop her investigation of his abuse of a young boy. The power structure of the church is dissected and displayed, with its dependence upon male privilege and the oppression of the weak particularly critiqued.

The film is a weak adaptation, and I suspect that the director's attachment to his own script was part of what made elements of the film particularly painfully stage-y. However, his writing is incredible in the dialogues between the lead characters (with the exception of Amy Adams, who seemed flat when acting beside Streep) and both emotionally and intellectually stimulating.

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