Sunday, 22 February 2009

Doubt

Finally I watched Doubt starred by Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I watched it after my Korean final examinations as some sort of compensation for the stressful week.

Based on a play by John Patrick Shanley and adapted by the playwright himself, Doubt may have been a very sophisticated play, but it seems embarrassingly weak to be transformed into a film.

Perhaps the film editor also shares the blame. But I don't know.

In fact, I expected a lot more depth in the character of Sister Aloysius played by Meryl Streep. There is a lot more about her to be told and yet remains untold. Why does she choose Father Flynn as her target of opposition? Why does she hate him so much that she would rather take "a step away from God" to expunge Father Flynn from the school? Why does she insist to take advantage of an innocent suspicion and then make up a story and hold on to it so deliberately firm and tight? Why does she look so thirsty of power but out of nothing? Of course answers were sprinkled over the film, but, just like Sister Aloysius often says, "I am not satisfied."

There is also something very interesting and intriguing with the church structure described in Doubt. In the 1960s soon after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the church still runs a structure that may look similar to what it was during the Middle Ages. Unconditional obedience to priests is required from the nuns. Priests seem to be superior at all times by taking the host's seat even when they come into the nuns' offices and enjoying the tea served by nuns in their meetings. Priests can smoke and drink and eat and enjoy themselves while nuns seem to lead a life that is no better than the Puritans. Not sure if it has anything to do with the Catholic Church in Vatican or just the way it is in the United States, but to me it is certainly an eye-opener and may give some sort of hint to answer the questions that I raised in mind.

Doubt also reminds me of the convent school where I have spent 12 years, during which I grew from a child into a young adult. The solemnity and rigorous standards of discipline all seem familiar, but sometimes I can't help being grateful to all the strict rules and regulations that helped me understand where to draw the line and become who I am. The problem with Hong Kong nowadays is that we take freedom for granted too much that many of us have forgotten, or don't ever have the chance to learn, where the line should be drawn.

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