Friday, September 12, 2008

Doubt: A Trailer

Meryl Streep...
Philip Seymour Hoffman...
Amy Adams...

and of course the great Viola Davis.


Judging strictly by the theatrical trailer, it looks like the film adaptation of Doubt is going to be quite good. As a matter of fact, it looks like it might be excellent and a major awards contender this Oscar season. The play, which won the Pulitzer and Tony back in 2005, has a taut, masterful structure and one that I felt would open up well on screen. I have to admit that I was biased in favor of the original cast and rather disappointed when Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman got the leads. (Comparisons are unfair, yet inevitable. If you go to the message boards, there is no shortage of opinion and the insults hurled at said opinions are ringing out like freedom). I have to say for as strong as the film appears to be, I feel that the two leads lack the distinctive characterizations that made the set match between Cherry Jones and Brian F. O'Byrne so fascinating. Especially with Sister Aloysius, a formidable Catholic school principal with considerable authority, but who is essentially powerless in the greater patriarchal hierarchies of the Catholic church.

I'm curious to see if Streep and Hoffman can give the characters the distinctive objectivity that made the stage production fascinating to watch. Aloysius was tough but never a sinister harridan in spite of her convictions. (Those calmer revealing moments about her character spoke volumes to an inestimable warmth hidden under the stern veneer and stiff habit). My one qualm is that the trailer shows the nun in a more damning light, with Streep seeming a bit too Regina Giddens for the character. (Perhaps Streep should consider a revival of The Little Foxes in NY?) Flynn was the ideal younger priest - progressive, charismatic and incredibly impassioned. The way the play has been written, it isn't easy to side with either one. I am most curious to see what happens when these characters are placed on screen.

Amy Adams looks like she is a stellar choice for the role of Sister James, the anemic, young nun who finds herself getting caught up in the battle between Aloysius and Flynn. Knowing what I do of the character and just from seeing her in this trailer, I get the distinct feeling that Viola Davis is going to walk away with the film, in tradition with original cast member Adriane Lenox who won a Featured Actress Tony for her 8 minute scene.

When I saw Doubt, my sympathies volleyed back and forth between Aloysius and Fr. Flynn throughout the ninety minute parable. Shanley offered in his playbill bio the opportunity to send him an email telling him of your thoughts and I did so. If I delved further into my thoughts here, I would spoil things for those unfamiliar with the piece. At the end of the play, I couldn't side with either one. Both had strong arguments and emotions, but at the heart of it, there was nothing but circumstantial evidence to back it up.

Did anyone see the original production of Doubt? Any thoughts on the upcoming film?

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