Friday, 6 February 2009


There are very few films which complement the plays in which they are based on – A Few Good Men, On Golden Pond and Sleuth to name a few. It is with sad regret that the Oscar-nominated Streep and Hoffman show is not among them.

Set in 1964, in St Nicholas Church and School, the story centres around Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the iron-gloved principal Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep).

Following the acceptance of the first black boy in the school, suspicions become seasoned when naive Sister James (Amy Adams) drops a hint that Flynn maybe spending too much time with the new kid.

And so begins a personal crusade to unearth the truth – is Flynn a paedophile? Is Sister Aloysius power-hungry? Has Sister James a motive of her own?

Of course, the story has all the ingredients of an Oscar contender – two of America’s finest character actors (Streep and Hoffman), based on a Pulitzer and Tony Award winning play and layered with a filthy dose of political tension, religion, suspicion and child molestation.

So, why doesn’t it work? Simple – it’s not good film material.

Scenes can last up to fifteen minutes at a time, dialogue is overplayed and by the end, your only doubt is why you didn’t decide to watch something else.

Maybe it needed a fresh pair of eyes on John Patrick Shanley’s award-winning play rather than Shanley taking the role of both screenwriter and director on this particular project.

Acting, as you can imagine, is first rate with Amy Adams (The Wedding Date, Talladega Nights) ditching popcorn comedy for arguably one of her most serious and exciting roles.

Unfortunately, it is not enough to save the film – Doubt is undoubtedly dull.

Rating: * *

No comments: