Monday, January 05, 2009

When in DOUBT...

Hurry from the theater. Save yourself the anguish of the sit-through I suffered for your benefit. Did Jesse on the cross do more? I doubt it.

This film could have been better titled "Suspicion". Or "Assassin" because it is a mono-maniacal assassination story. Having been originally a stage play, one might think it would be a character driven drama, but one would be quite mistaken. The characters are typical stick figures in a straight ahead plot driven melodrama.

It begins when our villain, a heavily-habited nun played as a vicious martinet Catholic school principal by Meryl Streep, suddenly develops a consuming presentiment that a pleasant and popular young priest, a la Philip Seymour Hoffman, has more than "Fatherly" feelings toward a black high school student in the parish school. Without proof or corobination of any sort, Sister Streep persists in not only a character assassination attempt on the priest, but is willing to settle for nothing less than the total professional and personal annilhation of her target. She is the Terminator redux. And thus the melodrama unfolds as plot-counterplot. Aristotelian sequences of Surprise, Revelation, Reversal, Surprise, Revelation, Reversal, Surprise, Surprise Revelation, Denouement, Reversal. It is all too schematic and mechanical. And tewwibly tewibbly arbitrary.

On a rewarding note, Viola Davis is given excellent dialogue in defense of her offish son and the accused priest, and is sure to win a Supporting Female Actress nomination and probable Oscar. For whatever that's worth.

Otherwise, bosh humbug!


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