REVIEW: Adams enchants, Streep bedazzles
I went to see the movie Doubt this week, which has been on my list of movies to see for a while.
I have to say that I was impressed with the film overall and enjoyed the suspense-thick plot that is weaved. It is an intense movie that broaches the deep topics of homosexuality, pedophilia and religious conviction.
The movie tells the story of a Catholic church and school in the Bronx. The school's strict principal, Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep), is feared by her students - and even some of her fellow nuns.
After one of the church's priests, Father Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), delivers a sermon on the nature of doubt, Aloysius tells the nuns to be on the lookout for odd behavior.
The school's 8th grade teacher, Sister James (Amy Adams), becomes aware of a close relationship between Father Flynn and a young African-American student at the school.
When James shares this information with Aloysius, Aloysius begins a relentless investigation that takes all those involved on an emotional ride, ultimately ending in deceit and producing only doubt.
The film is set in the 1960s and displays extremely realistic costumes and scenery, with most scenes taking place on the church grounds. The movie has a dark nature about it - not only in content, but visually as well. There are few bright colors, and the sun is seldom seen shining.
Perhaps the best visual element is the use of scenes to contrast different aspects in the movie. One of my favorite scenes contrasts the differences between life in the convent and life in the rectory: The nuns are shown eating a simple meal, drinking milk, all while in silence. The priests, on the other hand, are depicted smoking, drinking, telling jokes and enjoying their large supper.
The narrative of this movie has its slow points, sometimes making the movie lag and seem quite long. Despite being slow, the dialogue is brilliantly written, albeit scant at points.
John Patrick Shanley, who won a Pulitzer for his Tony Award-winning play Doubt: A Parable, crafts the interaction between these characters in a unique way.
Using that great writing, the actors in Doubt are what truly make this movie. Hoffman and Streep both hold Oscars for their acting ability, and it comes as no surprise that they are both nominated for their outstanding performances in this film.
What did surprise me was the performance by Adams in a far cry from her role as Giselle in the Disney movie Enchanted. She captures the role of na've and innocent Sister James with such credibility in a way that few actresses could in sharp contrast to Streep's Sister Aloysius.
Despite its shortcomings, I really did enjoy the movie. It's an expert showcase in acting and writing and will definitely leave you thinking. There is little doubt in my mind that this film is worth seeing.
© 2009 Dennis Busch, University Journal