Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Julia watches another Movie

Julia is our resident Osteopathic practioner at 10 Regina Street North and she has been known to watch the occasional movie. Here is one of those films!

Doubt (2008) (Dir: John Patrick Shanley)

What do a priest, a Mother Superior, and a door-to-door salesman have in common? Apparently none of them make a comfortable transition from Stage to Screen.

I was quite looking forward to “Doubt,” which boasted shovelfuls of Oscar, Golden Globe, and Critics’ Choice nominations both for acting and for adapted screenplay. Perennial heavyweights and personal favourites Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman never really got into character for me. I felt the way I did watching Dustin Hoffman shuffling around in the televised version of “Death of a Salesman;” he never really was Willy Loman, just Dustin Hoffman trying hard to make you think so.

Perhaps this is an issue of the difficulty of trying to make a play, even a really successful and award-winning one, a Film. The dialogue felt stiff and uncomfortable, and kept Streep and Hoffman (er, Phil, not Dusty) from really breathing life into their characters. As well, I found certain cinematic effects (wonky camera angles! gusting wind and rain!) heavy-handed and ultimately distracting. When it was over (did I mention it felt long?), I half-expected people to burst into my living room and jump to their feet, applauding and shouting “Bravo!!”

Overall, I was too distracted by its stilted, staged feel to really care about the interesting—and timely—themes “Doubt” was trying to address, and that’s a shame, because probing into the Catholic church, with its dark secrets and its messed-up gender and power dynamics, should make for captivating, thought-provoking film.

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