16 December 2008

Doubt

Written & Directed by: John Patrick Shanley
Full credits from IMDb

I predicted: "It’s been ages since a recent Broadway show successfully crossed over into pictures. The Producers, Proof, Rent — each fizzled quickly, marking the West Coast as the place art from the east goes to die. Doubt should disappear like the others. Writer-director turned playwright turned writer-director Shanley, last seen in Hollywood penning Congo (for cash!), pits Meryl Streep against Philip Seymour Hoffman for the first time, but Cherry Jones and BrĂ­an F. O’Byrne did it better — without mugging for Oscar nods."

In fact...
It’s not the art that went west to die but the artist. Streep and Hoffman aren’t really to blame for Doubt, though they’re conspicuously pushing for the accolades of their Tinseltown peers. Both tease out the play’s comedy (there are quite a few zingers) and nail the characters’ moral complexity, in which the movie’s central molestation mystery is rooted. But when the curtain fell after Jones delivered Doubt’s final lines on Broadway, the punctuating darkness delivered a devastating punch to the theatergoers left to slog into the streets. When Streep, in the same role, delivers those lines in the movie, they’re followed by a swooping camera and an angelic choral hymn that continues into the end credits, leaving the audience to drift into the streets atop an ethereal polyphonic current. Such is the problem with Doubt: The Movie.

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