So I finally saw “Doubt” (“Milk” is up next). If you haven’t seen “Doubt”, I’d suggest not reading this post. I discuss some key plot points.
Long story short: the play was better. However, the movie was darn good. I love movies like this. I eat this shit up. I mean, I loved “The Hours,” which both surprises and disgusts me.
Let’s do a compare/contrast between Meryl Streep and Cherry Jones. Because I like to judge and criticize.
(Oh, BTW, I’m focusing on Streep here, because, you know, it’s my blog. PSH was good; however, I just find him creepy in anything. And those nails! Yikes! Amy Adams was FLAWLESS. Perfection.)
What I found most interesting about Streep’s (fantastic) performance, was that it, in many ways, was actually larger than Cherry Jones, who won the Tony, and whom I saw a few years ago play the role. Which would seem odd, since one of my main observations about Cherry’s performance when I blogged about it was its largeness and how it would be nearly impossible to translate that to the screen. But Streep ate some scenery.
For example, during the confrontation scene, Streep was pacing and fluttering around the office, picking up paperwork, tugging at her bonnet (or whatever you call it) and, at one point, holding out a crucifix in the direction of Hoffman as if it were a shield and she some sort of vampire warrior. On stage, while Father Flynn yelled down at her, Cherry simply sat, anchored in her chair, with her arms tucked into the folds of her habit using only the power of her voice to combat the priest. Unmoving, like her constitution. The scene, in my opinion, was more powerful the way Jones played it. I’m not sure if that says anything about an actor who can do more with less, but there you go.
Also, I had a problem with Streep crying when Father Flynn asked her if she’d ever sinned. Why is she breaking down now? What’s the reasoning behind that? Jones didn’t crack until the final two lines of the play. Again, more powerful. Streep has hinted in interviews that the backstory she has created for Sister Aloysius Beauvier helps explain why this woman is so certain about Flynn’s wrongdoing. I’m going to venture a guess that perhaps her character’s backstory has something to do with sexual abuse in her past. Maybe she was abused as a child? Or maybe a close family member was abused, and she didn’t say or do anything to stop it — and that’s why she cried when Flynn asked her if she ever sinned before. Who knows?
Also, my two movie companions believed that the final lines spoken by Sister Aloysius basically confess her motivation and agenda. However, she could be confessing her doubts for a number of reasons. Perhaps she has doubt in the system that she’s devoted her life to – a system that would promote a pedophile? Or perhaps she has doubts in the human race in general – one that couldn’t see the level of corruption and evil that to her is so clear, and would subject a child to abuse “just till June”. Perhaps she has doubt that the fiber she ate earlier will take effect before noon? WHO KNOWS.