Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why I love movies: Doubt and the art of the stage play

I love movies where the script is adapted from a screenplay.  In a world where movies are riddled with CGI and the dialog wooden, it's refreshing when these adapted screenplays come along with their tight dialog, layered characters and good old fashioned metaphors.  Doubt weaves an intense story entirely driven by verbal confrontation and an impeccable storyline. 

Doubt, as you might have guessed from my lead, is adapted from a stage play.  Doubt, is a fantastic movie, and it achieves this without explosions, vulgarity or bullshit.  The metaphors in Doubt are delightfully old school. Each character represents an ideology, but not in a heavy handed way.

To call Sister Aloysius old fashioned would be an understatement.  She believes in the old ways of the church and icily refers to secular Christmas tunes as pagan idolatry. She despises ballpoint pens and looks down upon such vices as sugar.  She fears and resents the changing ways of the 1960's which are perfectly epitomized by Father Flynn. 

Flynn believes in a more compassionate Church, a church not so heavy handed in morality and more rooted in love and compassion.  Flynn represents the change that the Catholic church has inched toward for the last half century. 

Aside from the undercurrent that seeps through much of their early dialog, the script uses a physical representation to depict Aloysius's resistance to change.  Each time she enters her office, a large, dark and impersonal place, the window is open.  Each time she angrily closes it as she tries to shut out the changes of the outside world.  The window repeatedly being open is indicative(in my view) of the fact that try as she might, she is truly helpless to control the changing tides.

This plotline is merely the foundation for the true conflict between the two characters.  Aloysius believes that Father Flynn is molesting one of the students and accuses him of such.  Father Flynn is hiding something, although my hunch is that he is gay, rather than a child molester.  Each time Flynn enters the office, he closes the blinds on the window, blocking the light out.  I took this as he is trying to prevent something from coming to light. 

Often times in movies characters just talk to each other, there isn't a great fluidity to a scene.  Their actions are generally irrelevant.  I truly enjoy the subtle touches that Doubt included to further symbolize both characters emotional states.  Each movement, each action, means something, there isn't fluff.  I love it. 

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