Yes it stars the Diva of Drama, Meryl Streep. Yes it also stars the highly praised Philip Seymour Hoffman. But no that won’t keep you from regretting that you sacrificed $7 and two hours of your life on this bow-wow! Doubt is a soporific study in the vanity of one playwright who somehow talked Oscar-winners into putting on unattractive costumes and fretting around in a play so obvious and stilted that no MFA student would own it.
Doubt is thirty years too late, and 40 IQ points too dumb. The “issues” with which it grapples (I use the term loosely) have been dealt with already! A priest who may or may not have done something with an altar boy, a nun who vaguely suspects something, and another mega-nun (Streep) who is willing to bet that “something” really happened. Okay, it’s not exactly a fresh plot line but given the star power, we sort of expected something from this drab, boring exercise in “it’s my screenplay and I’m gonna direct it myself, dammit!”
To watch the usually complex instincts of Hoffman reduced to red-faced yelling (that’s how he conveys his righteous indignation). To see the über actress Streep reduced to an accent that veers between Brooklyn and Nantucket, while wearing a black bonnet and wringing her hands – is to wish one had gone to the close-out sales at Circuit City instead.
Now toss in a few amateurish diagonal camera angles, and some thunder and lightening (that’s to help the clueless filmmakers telegraph psychological torment), and you’ve got the stuff of a failing grade at any film school currently in operation.
God, I was disappointed. No doubt about it.