Monday, January 26, 2009


I didn't enjoy Doubt because it was boring. Yes, Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams are three of the greatest actors of their respective generations and genders, and their performances are very fine, but it's all in service of a story that lies dead on the screen, attempting thematic nuance with all the subtlety of a battle axe, inspiring eye rolls where it aims for sympathy, and reeking with the overwhelming, fetid stench of Oscar bait.

It's 1964, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is Father Flynn, the relatively young, popular priest at a Catholic church in the Bronx. But Meryl Streep's Sister Aloysius comes to suspect that Flynn has molested one of the boys in the parish - the first black boy ever to join the parish, mind you! - albeit without a shred of evidence; all she has is her certainty.

Good lord, where do I start? Religion, clergy molestation, even racism, all housed in a period piece, with lots of shouting and crying by award-winning actors. It's a shame the title "For Your Consideration" was already taken. Doubt begs to be prestigious from the first frame, positively getting down on its knees and fellating the Academy by the time the credits roll, so it goes without saying that most critics happily ate it up.

The problem isn't so much that it tries to tackle controversial subjects as that it comes at them without any interesting viewpoint or conclusion. I'm well aware that love of Christ and love of underage cock are inextricably bound, and that as one dons the clerical collar, child molestation will follow as surely as night follows day. I don't need a movie to tell me that. Nor are the film's attempted ruminations on doubt and certainly via Sister Aloysius followed through with any interesting coda, only Meryl Streep breaking down and blubbering to Amy Adams through her tears that "I have dooouubbt!!", to make certain the theme is sledgehammered firmly enough into the viewer's skull.

Doubt throws a bunch of artsy prestige topics together onto celluloid, grinds it up like trail mix, and expects to be lauded for it. Well, not me. I "doubt" I'll ever watch this groaner again, delightful pun.

2 Stars out of 5

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