Starring Streep, Hoffman, Adams and Davis
Based on the stage play of the same name (a veritable magnet for trophies and acclaim) written by Shanley, which tells the "parable" of a nun in 1964 who confronts a priest who she believes in sexually molesting a young black boy
Brought to you by Miramax
Expected Release Date December 5th, 2008
Nathaniel: I'm going to let Gabriel, our resident theater guru kick us off here. Tell the kiddies why they ought to be excited about Doubt and how many prizes (a year before the Oscar noms have been tallied) that it's already picked up.
Gabriel: I live but to serve you, Nathaniel. Doubt already has Tony, Pulitzer, Drama League, Drama Desk, OBIE, New York Critics Circle and Outer Critics Circle awards stacked on its shelf; it is arguably the most heralded new American play of the last five years. (August: Osage County might change all of that this season, but that's a completely different article, isn't it?) It proved remarkably successful on the road in 2006, where plays usually falter (as opposed to musicals).
But that's the not the important part of the story, is it? What makes Doubt, the play, so special is its gripping battle between rumor and truth, good and evil, sex and religion. Although it is set in 1964, it strikes many people as a morality tale for our gossip-inflected times. It is suspenseful and powerful, but wholly accessible...very few people will see it without finding something to relate to.
The movie, which is written and directed by Oscar winner John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck), also has the 2008 Dream Cast: Meryl Streep as the severe Sister Aloysius, Philip Seymour Hoffman as the conflicted Father Flynn, Amy Adams as the acolyte Sister James, and Tony winner Viola Davis as Mrs. Muller. These were the only characters in the play, but more have been added in the screenplay, including the central role of Jimmy. Who DOESN'T want to see Streep and Hoffman go toe-to-toe? The mind reels at the actor nirvana this film could attain...
Glenn: I had never heard much about Doubt apart from the general stuff from people like Nathaniel - American plays don't tend to get Australian productions and as far as I know this one never did - but you know what movie title went ringin' through my mind while reading Gabriel's exciting description? Atonement --a movie about moral guilt and the power of rumour? Does Keira show up in a sultry green habit citing rapid-fire British clipped dialogue?
Apart from the obvious, I'm incredibly excited to be able to see Viola Davis is an actual featured role again. Nat has already discussed this ad nauseam, but why isn't she a bigger film star yet? Why isn't she being offered vaguely racist roles on primetime soap operas? Hmmm...
Viola Davis, left (Far From Heaven, Solaris) will play the mother of the allegedly abused child. Amy Adams, right (Enchanted, Junebug) the acolyte nun
Joe: It was a shrewd move on the film's part to cast Meryl Streep in the lead -- the one actress who could get me to shut up about how much I'd want to see Cherry Jones reprise her role from the Broadway production (which I never got to see). I won't pretend like I'm not worried about the words "Philip Seymour Hoffman" and "theatrical adaptation" in the same sentence -- I've been liking him much better in recent years, but when he goes over-the-top theatrical, he loses me. Also, in terms of managing expectations, if you're looking for the Atonement-style early frontrunner which gets punished for being seen as such, it's either this or Revolutionary Road. I don't know how you go about combatting that perception, but someone's going to have to try.
Gabriel: Joe's absolutely right...for film buffs who may not know Cherry Jones (M. Night Shyamalan films, the upcoming female president on 24), she's the queen of serious Broadway, one of the most talented (and may I add, nicest to have a drink with) actresses alive today. No one but Streep could take the part from her in a way I'd feel comfortable.
And to quiet your fears about "theatrical adaptation" somewhat, Joe...the major criticism the play had when it was on Broadway, if any, was that is seemed too cinematic. I thought it reminded me of an HBO telefilm (which is where, honestly, I thought the adaptation would end up, like Angels in America). So the piece kind of naturally lends itself to this kind of styling. One hopes.
Nathaniel: Curious. I wasn't quite as excited as the rest of the planet when this hit Broadway but I do think it's a corker of a play. Yet I didn't feel like it was cinematic. It's the type of talky intense thing (all one set) that benefits from the stage and how you have to dive into the ideas of the story because there's no escape from it... It definitely builds as you see the power rising (Streep subbing for the altogether magnificent Cherry Jones --can they give her at least a nun cameo? Oh the humanity) and the parallel stakes rising for this other life (Hoffman)
I hope the movie, which I know will try to "open it up" doesn't go to naturalistic. The play benefits from how little we see of the central mystery and how much it stays only in our heads. I fear that the movies being an indexical artform rather than representational one might topple this particular cart. But whether it can ride the transfer smoothly or awkwardly, I can't wait to see it.
MaryAnn: I'm hugely curious to see how this gets adapted to film. (I also dread and simultaneously anticipate Frost/Nixon ) I haven't seen the play but I have read it, and it doesn't seem very cinematic to me.
On the plus side, Hollywood seems to have discovered the Bronx: this is one of several movies that are filming or have been shot in my neck of the woods recently. I'm looking forward to that, at least.
Oh, but Atonement this ain't...
#1 Synecdoche, New York / #2 Burn After Reading / #3 Australia / #4 Milk / #5 Blindness / # 6 Doubt / #7 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button / #8 Revolutionary Road / #9 The Dark Knight / #10 Sex & The City: The Movie / #11 The Lovely Bones / #12 Wall-E / #13 Stop-Loss / #14 The Women / #15 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince / Introduction / Orphans