Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hail Meryl! Doubt Screening with the Stars

My bf invited me to an industry screening of Doubt recently, held at the Academy of Motion Pictures. As a recovering Catholic, I was very interested in seeing the film - and ecstatic at the prospect of seeing the stars in person as they were doing a Q&A.

There was a long line to get in and I almost whipped out my rosary to pray that we'd get seats. I saw Sally Field waiting in line too. Stars - they're just like us!

Fortunately, we got seats and were ushered into the huge theater. There were giant Oscar statues on stage, and Oscar winners waiting in the wings. The movie was really good, if not quite Best Picture material (
see review). Meryl's performance did conjure up some scary memories of Our Lady of Good Counsel grade school for me (that's a shout out to you, Sr. Mary Michael). Philip Seymour Hoffman was a very convincing priest. Amy Adams was okay, if a bit generically Pollyanna-ish. Viola Davis was a revelation. Her scene with Meryl is like a steel cage match, and she steals it. I bet she'll get nominated for Best Supporting Actress for just that one scene.

The Q&A was really entertaining. Streep, Hoffman, Adams, Davis, and the writer/director John Patrick Shanley formed the panel. It was exciting to see them in person. They seemed very relaxed and joked a lot. Adams and Davis talked about how they campaigned hard for their roles. Adams said her former co-star Emily Blunt suggested she go for the role. Davis said she practiced her scene for 3 months before auditioning, and it definitely shows.

Shanley talked about the challenges involved in adapting his play for the screen. There are no children in the play, but they were added for the film. The world was fleshed out more, however the film still feels like a play because so much of it is face-to-face confrontations. The cast talked about the intense rehearsal process.
Issues of race and sexism are prominent in the movie and were discussed in the Q&A. The film gives the viewer a lot to ruminate on.

Streep is self-effacing and charming in person and still strikingly beautiful. Hoffman looked dissheveled but, well, I'd still do him. He was the only cast member who hung around after the Q&A to mingle with the mostly-washed masses. I wanted to approach and compliment his performance. Having had an uncle who was a priest, I think I'm a good judge of the performance, and he really had the mannerisms and persona down well. But I chickened out. What can I say - I don't have Sr. Aloysius' moxy.

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