Sunday, November 9, 2008

Doubts over Doubt, or How dubious indeed reviews are.

I'm still looking forward to it as before, but I'm puzzled as to why so many people are having distinctly opposing views on the same things.

's doubtful reviews:

"Oscar-wise, despite McCarthy's concerns about Streep--who definitely adds more nuance and character details to the role as written---the Academy actors should reward Streep for this" - Anne Thompson Variety

"By ostensibly underplaying the role’s villainy, however, Streep overdoes the melodrama, thereby turning Sister Aloysius into more of a stock figure than she ultimately seemed onstage. Every little tic, gesture and facial mannerism seems maximized by the effort expended to minimalize them, to diminished returns in the cause of creating a three-dimensional character." - Todd McCarthy Variety

"The irony for me is that the visual delivery in this film (and I don't just mean the beautifully muted fall-winter colors in Roger Deakins' cinematography) is just right. Shanley's direction serves the holy grail of the text and lets the performers -- Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Viola Davis, Amy Adams -- do their stuff. 
The fact that she [Streep's Sister] is a kind of mythical beast and that Streep is expert at letting you know precisely what's going on in her hard and damning head is, for me, a trip. She's almost Mommie Dearest, and I mean that as a genuine compliment." - Jeff Wells Hollywood Elsewhere

"The problem with “Doubt” isn’t Meryl Streep’s over-the-top performance as a helfire-and-brimstone-breathing nun on a personal witch hunt.  It isn’t in Philip Serymour Hoffman’s controlled but confused portrayal, the actor seemingly lost in the ambiguities of the story and, indeed, the character.  It isn’t even in the rather cut-and-paste approach to bringing the story from the stage to the screen, thereby sapping it of intimate dramatic impact.
Mainly, the trouble with “Doubt” is how drastically uncinematic it is.  Despite having a great lenser like Roger Deakins behind the camera, and a design team to die for otherwise, John Patrick Shanley seems to have neutered his story’s potential for screen resonance. " - Kris Tapley In Contention

[That said, they ALL agree on Viola Davis' performance] But in regards to everything else: which one is it: Is Streep over the top or pulling it back? Is the lensing subdued to good or bad end results? It just makes the reception just as much about doubt as the film itself... so meta I love it.

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