|Miramax || PG13 - 103 minutes - $29.99 || April 7, 2009|
|Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2009-04-07|
Writer(s): John Patrick Shanley (play); John Patrick Shanley (screenplay)
Cast: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis
Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 2008
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I have a tiny rant to start off this review with, so just keep reading. The problem I have with some movies is they use the title of the film more than a few times during the duration of it. Doubt is no slouch in these terms, as the name of the movie is used multiple times throughout and almost made me want to rip my ears out from hearing it so much. That wasnít the only problem with the movie I had, but letís get the flick itself shall we?
Donald Miller (Joseph Foster) is one of the altar boys for the church and talks to another altar boy before the first sermon, Jimmy Hurley (Lloyd Clay Brown). Donald asks him if he thinks heís fat, as itís apparent something is bothering him but doesnít reveal what it is. Jimmy jokes around with him wondering why he would ask something like that, and he plays it off and isnít bothered by it anymore.
The church sermon begins and we see both boys in the church along with Father Flynn. (Philip Seymour Hoffman) He is preaching his message for the day. During his sermon, he talks about the crisis that recently happened (Kennedyís assassination) and how people should come together during a time of need. We also are introduced to two other sisters who are in the pews; Sister Beauvier (Meryl Streep) and Sister James (Amy Adams). Beauvier is an incredibly strict nun who holds all of the church laws to heart, while James is more reserved in the sense that she tries to find the best in people no matter what.
After the sermon is finished, Donald and Flynn talk a bit more and he feels bad for the child, as though something is obviously troubling him. The two talk for a bit and Flynn ends up giving him a toy that was his, and Donald lets him know that he wants to be just a preacher like Flynn is when he grows up. Flynn smiles a bit, and the two part ways.
Over dinner a few days later, the nuns discuss what the fatherís sermon was really about, mainly the concept of doubt. Beauvier instructs all of the nuns to be careful about what he is up to with the altar boys, and that if they notice anything suspicious to report to her right away. Beauvier is also seen as the head of the church which is also a school in one, and anything that goes on is reported directly to her immediately. Sister James is a bit reluctant, as though she just recently came to the church and doesnít think that anything is going on, that maybe Beauvier is blowing things out of proportion.
Beauvier comes into Sister Jamesís classroom, in which she teaches 8th grade, to fix up the place. She is worried about all the things that the children may have that could corrupt them, and finds a few things that worry her. She instructs her to keep the boys away from a girl in the class, takes the cough drops (Which she refers to as ďcandyĒ), and puts up a frame with a picture of the non-recent pope up. She says this will let her see in the back of her head in case trouble erupts in the classroom. Although she finds these measures to be a bit inappropriate, she reluctantly agrees since Beauvier is the boss of the church school.
Everything appears normal at the church, until one day when Flynn calls down Donald to the gym and Sister James at dance class notices that he hasnít returned yet. She spots Flynn putting a shirt in Donaldís locker, and tries to ask Donald what happened. Donald stands mute basically and doesnít let Sister James know what went on, so she has no other choice but to turn to Beauvier. The two sisters attempt to confront Flynn in Beauvierís office about what happened with Donald. Yes, in case youíre wondering, ďthatĒ is the topic of the film, and itís pretty obvious what is being implied.
I just couldnít get into this movie, and I really donít know why. I was excited to watch it after the sticker on the cover said ďOne of the top 50 films of all timeĒ and it didnít seem like it. The acting is top-notch though, with Streep and the rest of the cast believable and exciting. But the script is just awful, and the constant use of the word doubt was crippling every time I heard it. There isnít much else to say; maybe Iím one of the few that didnít find this one as good as everyone said it was.
Commentary with Director/Writer John Patrick Shanley: The highlight (as usual for me) is this commentary track for the special features package, as he talks about numerous things as the movie progresses. He manages to hold his own for the movie and dry spots were rare. This commentary is phenomenal and I suggest a listen to.
The Sisters of Charity (6 minutes): The nuns of the charity are interviewed about their experiences in the church. I didnít really find this entertaining though, since it is relatively short.
The Cast of Doubt (14 minutes): The cast is interviewed about the film and their roles in it. It drags on a bit though after a few minutes, so unless you just have to watch this then Iíd recommend taking a pass.
Scoring Doubt (5 minutes): This takes a look at the music in the film. For those who enjoy this sort of thing, then this will interest you greatly.
Doubt: From Stage to Screen (19 minutes): The cast and crew discuss the move from a play to the big screen. Itís interesting as you see some of how the film was made as well.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
I was shocked to see just how poor the video quality was when I popped in the movie. Colors are off throughout the film, as blueís take precedence over others for some reason. The scenes inside the churchís office also looked dreadful, as well as the ones outside of it. There were only a handful of scenes where there werenít any issues with color or massive amounts of grain, but they were few and far between. Make no mistake about it, this is one transfer gone wrong.
On the audio side, things are a little bit better but not by much. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track works, but only in the sense that this is a complete dialogue film, and thatís it. There are no special effects and surround use was minimal at best. In fact, my sub turned off a few minutes into the movie and may have popped back on in only two or three more scenes before shutting off again. Dialogue levels were decent and I didnít struggle to hear anything, although it could have definitely been a little louder in terms of volume.
I just canít understand why all the buzz is surround Doubt. Itís just an average film, with nothing that great about it but also nothing terrible. The special features are decent, but the audio and video portion is well-below standards in my opinion. Iíd recommend a rental first before purchasing, as though odds are this will just get re-released at some point down the road. Sorry, but this is one movie that I canít help but cast doubt upon.