Doubt


* *

Meryl Streep is, arguably, the best actor we have.  She creates characters different from herself.  It is the lesser actor who just reads his lines and pretends to be someone he isn’t.  The greater actor creates a person from whole cloth, then moves into that person.  Think Marlon Brando as the Godfather.  Streep plays opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman who is adequate as the priest after whom Streep’s nun goes.  The other fine performance is delivered by Viola Davis, who was nominated for a Golden Globe award for this film.  She kicks butt, creating the character of Mrs. Miller, the mother of a young adolescent boy at the Catholic school at which the drama unfolds.


Drama is the functional word.  It is difficult to make a drama work.  When you are dealing with serious material you have to do it seriously.  You can’t lose the mood or audience attention will suffer and the movie falls flat.  That doesn’t quite happen here, but almost.  If not for the great acting of Ms. Streep and Ms. Davis, and the competent acting of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, the story would not be compelling enough to work on its own.  This is one of those films which tells a story with no real reason to be told.  He doubts, she doubts, she is certain until she also has doubts. 


I doubt this film will get much play.  It will be laid quietly to rest, its only historic significance that one of the great actors of American Cinema, Meryl Streep, was in it.