So I get the fact that this new movie Doubt starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman is really supposed to be about faith and trust and, well, doubt (duh), but am I the only one who is totally and completely freaked out by the trailer / commercials and the image of Meryl as a mean, nasty nun who is going to kick the tar out of you?
From what I've learned, Doubt is a movie based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, and it centers on a friendly priest (Hoffman) in the mid 60s, following Vatican II. (For all you non-Catholics out there, that was basically when the church decided folk music during Mass was okay, and you could start calling Father O'Flannery Father Bob.)
Anyway, Hoffman is all about making nice with the parishioners and students at the parish school, while Streep plays a nun who would rather stay firmly rooted in the time when kids who wrote with their left hands were thought to be channeling the devil. She wears scary black garb including a big black Little House on the Prairie bonnet (which I didn't even realize some nuns wore), and she has a vicious look to her.
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The other day I heard playwright John Patrick Shanley on NPR, talking about how Doubt is supposed to have moments of humor in it. Huh? Every time I catch a glimpse of Meryl in that big black bonnet and hear her snide, snarky, mean nun voice, I cringe. The looming, horror movie music they play as the scenes flash before me doesn't help. It's like I half expect Jason Voorhees to show up, swinging an axe and taking Communion.
Maybe my childhood in Catholic school doesn't help my point of view, but I was educated by lay people, not nuns. Maybe it's the fact that Meryl is such an amazing actress, I forget I'm watching the same woman who starred in She-Devil, and I instead focus on the shivery feeling I get watching her stare down Hoffman with eyes that could send you hiding in the confessional booth.
Either way, I have a feeling when this movie opens, I'll be too freaked out to watch it alone.
-- Jennifer Mathieu