Saturday, January 3, 2009

Doubt the Movie: Questions Raised That Aren't Necessarily Answered

I saw John Patrick Shanley's play "Doubt" performed in Los Angeles, and he himself adapted his play for the screen and directed the movie. I thought the play powerful, and the playwright has preserved his story in the movie he wrote and directed.

Still, the play's ending seemed much more ambiguous than the movie's ending. Perhaps Shanley felt that movie audiences needed a more settled ending than did theater audiences. Regardless of the case, the story itself -- set in a Catholic elementary school in Boston a year after the assassination of President Kennedy -- raises some interesting moral questions for all of us today.

In the absence of evidence, are we morally required to go with our "gut" in order to protect a child, even at the risk of ruining an adult's life? Or are we all liable to see what we "see" based on our own insecurities and prejudices?

If you've seen the movie or the play, leave a comment as to whether you think the head sister (played by Meryl Streep in the movie) was correct in the action she took.

And, oh yes, the actor who plays the child's mother in the movie, Viola Davis, I predict will be nominated for an Oscar in the best supporting category. When I said this to my younger daughter, she informed me that this is already being predicted by film critics. I hadn't read anything about this, but there was no doubt, as I watched Viola Davis' heartbreaking scene with Meryl Streep, that Viola Davis will be one of five names in that category when the Oscar nominations are announced.

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