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Doubt Objectively Good

Published December 11, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Miramax Films
Doubt PosterDoubt
Doubt is objectively good, but that doesn't mean I enjoy it. I mean, woo hoo, debating suspicions of pedophilia in the Catholic church! It does some interesting things though.

Review: Doubt


Starting off, the inane priest/nun banter is inane. Maybe that's to show what sort of world this happens in, or maybe it's to contrast the much more significant debates going on later in the film.

You see the awkwardness of the humorless trying to keep things light. That kind of pays off when the cold bitch becomes the hero. The meek one gets angry too. It's called character arc.

It never spells everything out, which makes Doubt good drama. They explore things in roundabout ways so viewers are left to fill in the gaps. That should be basic but these days one can't take it for granted.

It seems like kind of a small issue. When you think about how a child's life could be destroyed if the accusations are true, you never really get to know the kid enough to feel the broad scope of the implications. It's more about there's one scandal in this otherwise boring little community and that becomes the primary focus. Every other little thing fades away.


They do find all the facets of the issue to last 100 minutes. They confront the priest, they question their own assumptions and they reveal the mom's attitudes about her son.

They don't try too hard to cinematize the play. I mean, turning a dialogue into a walk and talk is hardly revamping the whole aesthetic. But good, dialogue should be dialogue. You don’t have to jazz it up just because you have a camera. In fact, when they both to tilt the camera, it seems so obvious that it invalidates the discomfort they're trying to achieve. So just let it play out.

The metaphors are pretty thin. I mean, there's a storm thundering outside during the big confrontation. Of course all the sermons are obvious.

But look, it's about the words and you get to see powerhouse actors sparring. Even Viola Davis provides a juicy character against Meryl Streep. It's overwrought but you want to see these guys let loose. There's a lot of declaring morals but that's what priests and nuns do.

Perhaps you could say it's not as ambiguous as it wants to be. The priest's ultimate actions confirm something, but then you could also say he was just faced with the impossible assumptions, so it's ambiguous.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Miramax Films
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