Directed by John Patrick Shanley.
Written by John Patrick Shanley.
Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and
Release Year: 2008
Review Date: 12/20/08
Based on the play of the same name, "Doubt"
takes us to church to remind us that "maybe" really does mean
Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a
pastor at a New York church in 1964. Father Flynn appears to
be very close--ahem, VERY close--to one of his alter boys, Donald
(Joseph Foster), who also happens to be the only black child at this
parish/school. One day, while in the history class of Sister
James (Amy Adams), Donald is summoned to the rectory by Father Flynn
to have a private meeting...a dirty undershirt and some other
questions later, Sister James brings to the matter to the school's
principal and lead headhunter, Sister Beauvier (Meryl Streep), who
then considers what to do next in this matter of possible abuse.
But, as there are a number of maybes to the
case, and the fact that there is no "law" present when it comes to
these matters, "Doubt" does a great job of creating just that, right
down to the film's interesting ending. The film also gets a
ton of mileage out of its three main leads, and Streep, Hoffman and
Adams are all excellent in laying off their character's beliefs and
why we think they will never stray from those initial concepts.
My assumption is that this play was originally done by
writer/director John Patrick Shanley, and in the conversion, I
wonder what has been changed (if anything) to make it work on the
big screen...but, as it is, "Doubt" has plenty going for it, but it
is never a work of art like some other films I have seen this year
Some of that is the fairly ordinary
camerawork by Roger Deakins, who I love (he shot the majority of the
Coen Brothers' films, as well as "The Shawshank Redemption") but
underwhelms here; some of that is the blah child acting in "Doubt",
not a major flaw but something that could have brought the whole
thing up a notch; some of that is the genius of not giving us a
definitive answer ending, but instead the one we get.
All of this is to say that "Doubt" has no
major flaws, and is a very well-performed drama. I think it's
the kind of movie that voters discuss for Best Picture, but no one
really becomes an advocate for it because it doesn't do any one
thing that is truly special or remarkable. Still, a great
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard