HOWEVER... there was some merit in this film... and three of the best actors on this side of the rainbow. (Which is why I was so confused about the flatness of the final product.) According to my theater friend Colleen, the original screenplay introduced 4 characters total, and I'm sure the set was minimal. I am guessing that they were the three main characters-- two nuns and a priest-- plus the mother. No children involved. Interesting.
That being said, some of the best scenes involved a full cast and movie magic. The dining scenes that were shot between the 'girls' and the 'boys' showcasing the staunch differences in gender and decorum, for example, were movie-only. The cold lighting was pitch perfect and the green walls of Sister Aloysius Beauvier's office divine. The cinematography was beautiful and the movement just so. Streep couldn't be more ideal for the role, and Hoffman and Adams clearly held their own. So why so flat?
After much contemplation and disgust I realized that my main problem with the film wasn't the script. It wasn't the actors, it wasn't the filming or the movie translation. The story bothered me. This world bothered me. The world within the brick and mortar walls of the Catholic church. I couldn't stand the restraint.
The story had no where to go other than neutral because the church had no where to go. There wasn't a court case or a public vote or a revolution. I wanted Milk, I wanted The Reader. Revolution and heart pounding real-life suspense. Instead I received a few hidden arguments and quiet meetings. Bor-ing. There wasn't a public upset, and barely a private one.
This priest resigned in a hush and took another position at another parish and all he got in revenge was a little pouting. He walked away with his tail between his legs and his heart in need of change. There wasn't a fall out of any measurable proportion. Like my friend Sarah (the religion major, mind you) asked in complete sincerity... what was the point? Doubt is as vital as certainty? As condemning as trial? Okay... what else?
And remember the gorgeous score accompanying the trailer? The one that drew us in with utter anticipation? They left that out. Not even one cello. Disappointing for sure.
But perhaps that was the point... maybe the joke was on me. It was a quiet world, a boring confine. There wasn't any bouncing suspense with a score to match. It was about doubt, not surety. Tradition, not absolution. Maybe we were supposed to feel oppressed and suffocated just as a woman in the system would have felt. Maybe. But I still wanted violins.
So. Fall in love with the people and the ideas. Fall in love with the strong dialogue and perfect acting. Just be prepared for a long haul. Take it with a grain of catholic salt. AND, I just really want Hathaway or Winslet to score that statue. Meryl Streep has plenty. Plus, she did Mamma Mia this year and should be severely punished.
***DISCLAIMER*** (As requested by HoHo and Emalicious.) Okay. I actually loved Mamma Mia. And I listen to the soundtrack on my ipod pretty much every day. My favorite song is "Name of the Game" and the color of my bedroom was inspired by the Greek goodness of the cinematography. I love ABBA and I love musicals. Always have. What I meant by my comment above was that it is NOT Meryl's most Oscar-worthy performance and I really just want Anne Hathaway to win. Or Kate Winslet. But yeah... I loved Mamma Mia and will probably purchase the DVD.