Sunday, December 21, 2008

Relieving My Doubt

Relieving My Doubt

When I saw John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Doubt in March 2005, I was in complete awe of this completely compelling drama. With the redoubtable Brían F. O'Byrne as Father Flynn sparring with Tony-winner Cherry Jones as Sister Aloysius, we were left debating, “Did he or didn’t he?” long after our departure from the theatre.

But upon entering the movie theatre a week ago, I have to confess that I had my doubts as to whether Shanley's personally directed screenplay could match that live theatrical experience audiences had found so riveting just a few short years ago.

With Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep now in the leads, I should have known better. Their extraordinary performances were both enthralling and pitch perfect.

My larger concern was whether the silver screen incarnation would give too much away. After all, Shanley's small play only included four principal actors. A film version would by its very nature demand greater context and additional characters, including those who had only been mentioned in the play. Again, my fears were allayed. Yes, the stage version of Doubt forced its audience to rely entirely on hearsay, but I believe the key visuals in the movie were so expertly crafted by Shanley, that precious little is given away.

Just as the stage version offered excellent turns by Heather Goldenhersh as Sister James and Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox as the conflicted Mrs. Muller, the screen version offers no less compelling performances by Amy Adams and Viola Davis. Both are superb.

Best of all, just as with Doubt on stage, we were still discussing whether or not he did it. Bravo to John Patrick Shanley and cast.

While I've just begun my annual holiday filmgoing spree, I can tell you that to date, "Doubt" is the best movie I've seen all year.

UPDATE (12.21.08, 8:10 p.m. EST): Scratch that last item. I just came back from "Slumdog Millionaire" -- a movie unlike any other. Yes, I love "Doubt," but "Slumdog Millionaire" is in a class unto itself. My advice? Go see them both!

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 21 December, 2008, Blogger paul said...

Most people seeing "Doubt" would think that Streep's and Hoffman's performances are formidable - they are. But, if you were lucky enough to see Cherry Jones on the stage, then you would know without a doubt, that no one can top her in that role. PS. I heard that they will be making a movie of "August Osage County." Since Streep is now in everything, I hope this will be the exception. Hope the role goes to Judi Dench or Helen Mirren. What those two could do. They'd eat up the screen.

At 21 December, 2008, Blogger Dale said...

I was lucky enough to see Cherry and Brian and was wowed. I'm looking forward to the movie with less trepidation now that I've read your review.

At 21 December, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Paul, Nothing can compare with seeing the live performance. But I'm pleased that for once, I left a film version of a Broadway show feeling more sated than I thought possible.

Dale, I think you'll enjoy.

At 21 December, 2008, Blogger Alicia said...

I cannot wait to see the film. I, too, saw Cherry & Brian and have had reservations similar to those you mention. I'm happy to hear that after seeing it, your doubts have been assuaged.

P.S. Guess who gets to direct this wonderful play in 2009? :)

At 21 December, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Alicia, When? Where???

At 22 December, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you!!!!! Slumdog is BRILLIANT!!!!! What a REAL film. With all of the drivel and trash that Hollywood makes. My God!!!!

At 22 December, 2008, Blogger paul said...

Alicia, What play are you talking about? Is it"August Osage County?" Is the Director Letts?

At 22 December, 2008, Blogger Alicia said...

I'm directing DOUBT in July 2009 at Theatreworks in New Milford, CT.

At 22 December, 2008, Blogger paul said...

Alicia, I hope that you keep us posted when the play opens via this blog. Congrats and Good Luck!

At 22 December, 2008, Blogger Vance said...

Check out a little movie called Boy A too. Haunting. But yah. Slumdog is terrific. Still need to catch up with movies Doubt and Frost/Nixon over the next 2 weeks.

At 24 December, 2008, Blogger gay CME guy said...

I did not get to see the play, so have no comparison. I'd love to chat with someone (off of your blog site) who has seen both. I have to say, I did not like it. I agree with Paul about Streep and AOC. Streep is way overexposed. If she't AOC, that may be enough reason for me to not see it. I know it's too much to expect to see any of the OBC in the movie. I am tired of seeing MS in everything. I thought PS-H and AA very good, and Viola Davis exquisite. All in all, though, my friend and I both wished we'd gone to see "Frost/Nixon".


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