DIY Storytime

I had thought that performances by Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman automatically created, if not masterworks, then certainly exceptional, outstanding cinema. In retrospect, that’s crazy talk and I don’t know what I was smoking, great though they both are. I came to understand this watching Doubt. His performance seems flat to me, considering the story and his role in it. Good thing she presents as complicated and magnetic a performance as ever. Right? Well, sure, if you’re not all greedy about stuff like theme and plot.  Or at least not impatient about these things. Because Doubt always feels like it’s about to boil up, so you stick with it, focus on Meryl, second guess where it’s going to go. And then – it’s – over? Fast forward with me now past the anti-climax and disappointment and confusion, through to the surprising delayed engagement this story had planted in me. The movie is made from rich enough concept that you can work out all kinds of premises, subtexts and motivations, all on your own! (If you have a good chunk of time afterward which will make no demands on your mind.) It’s a tell-yourself-a-great-story kit.

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