Doubt (John Patrick Shanley, 2008) February 11, 2009Posted by Richard Bolisay in Hollywood, Literature.
Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley
Cast: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffmann, Amy Adams, Viola Davis
Doubt is a fistful of dynamite, carefully prepared to reach a desired effect. In fact it is so rigorously structured it can only reach an effect similar to everyone, as if Shanley has connived with science to dismantle the morality of an overtly spiritual institution, stripping it of its sins. There is clever magic at work, with the confinement of the story, the characters that follow certain logic, their apt excuse for their actions, and the setting that emphasizes the restraint without overstating. While it is rather off-putting to know that it is a play written by someone who also directed it in theater, who in turn adapted it for the big screen, the competence of the film lets you forget the self-importance. That it is a prizewinning play will also tell you that it is an actor’s film, actors who are sometimes bigger than themselves but nevertheless overwhelming with might. They explode in perfect time, leaving the shrapnel of broken faith. There is always that feeling of guilt, of un-mentioning the unspeakable, of precaution because the unspoken overrules the happening. Nastiness does not exist; it remains where it should belong: in the void of our dark hearts. The heavy rain pours, coming down like it is the last day of earth, and patters against the silk windows of an unsettled religion. It blurs the light of conscience. A rotten weather, a rotten truth. If in the pursuit of wrongdoing, one steps away from god, then we must be in another planet, far off where gods don’t exist, close to where penmanship is, indeed, dying.