Doubt – not as Oscar worthy as you’d imagine
When a film is nominated for 5 Academy Awards you’d think it was worth a watch. Well “Doubt” starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman is such a film and despite most of us not keen on seeing a movie based around nuns, a review had to be made. Is it worth the nominations? Does Amy Adams look as good in a habit? And can Philip Seymour Hoffman play any character that doesn’t come across as dodgy? The answer to all of the above it seems…is no!
Set at a Catholic school in the Bronx, it centers on a nun who grows suspicious when a priest begins taking too much interest in the life of a young black student. Is she being overly protective or not protective enough? And can she work within the system to discover the truth?
So a play that became a hit, became a film starring the very scary Ms Streep. She plays a principal of a school / a nun / an obsessed woman who only seems happy when harassing them; be it children, priests or gardeners.
She is accompanied by Amy Adams (last seen in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) who plays a woman so timid, you’d think she was born a deer. She squeaks a few lines, stirs up a thought in the principal, then disappears for nearly half the film.
Not to worry though because the seriously mumbling man Philip Seymour Hoffman does his usual “weird” acting as the accused priest. He manages to keep you suitably confused as to his own guilt (a difficult job considering Streep’s powerful performance as a woman obsessed with his confession). Sadly though, Hoffman is somewhat overpowered by Streep playing her “GIVE ME AN OSCAR” role.
Why is it that Hollywood is convinced critics enjoy watching this type of very deep and thematic performance? It is a shame that a “real film” is not considered for Academy Awards. I am sure that the accusation that “real films” are not included in the Academy Awards is likely to cause some debate, but can’t a film just be really good without someone shouting in a thespian manner at the camera whilst simultaneously letting their nose run?
I mean let’s put some perspective on this for a second. All of the main characters were nominated for an Oscar (including the accused child’s mother played by Viola Davis). So Amy Adams squeaked for a while and didn’t deserve an award (I can do that for 20 minutes). Seymour Hoffman acted strangely (no different to any other role he plays) so he didn’t deserve an Oscar. Viola Davis (although good) just didn’t have as much presence as you’d hoped, so she couldn’t win the Oscar. This leaves Meryl Streep. Let’s be honest, she plays a scary nun and she scared the bejesus out of me!
This is its ultimate downfall though as Doubt should have won these awards with some backup from the other characters. Hoffman, Adams and Davis were all good, but next to Meryl Streep they might have all been statues. I get the feeling if you put inanimate objects next to Streep, she could still convince you that she believed Michelangelo’s David was responsible for touching the child.
I’m getting a little off track here. “Doubt” is an interesting tale that fundamentally allows you to see whether the priest is guilty or not. No evidence is brought forward and no conclusions made, so you have to ask yourself one question: “do you gossip much? Punk!” If the answer to the previous question is “yes” then you will believe without doubt (see what I did there) that the priest is a filthy old pervert who deserves a good hiding. If, on the other hand you answer “no” then I would urge you to stop lying. For the rest of you who really meant “no” then you will watch this film… with doubts.
Doubt, in my opinion should be kept on the stage. I imagine it is a powerful tale in the theatre. However, when introduced to film it seems to drag a little. You get a bit bored with Streep continuing her tirade against Hoffman’s priest. When will she just give up, you think. What’s with the open windows? Why is the lightbulb bursting every five seconds? Do we really have to try and figure out all the hidden thematic elements in the movie?
I still don’t believe that this deserved the Oscar nominations it received. That is not to say it is a bad film. Far from it! However this is dressed up so much as “Oscar worthy” it just comes across as contrived.
A Oscar worth film (in my opinion) is an effort of collaboration. Doubt was basically Meryl Streep looking grumpy whilst moaning at everyone!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5