The Hubs and I watched Doubt the other night. It has been a very long time since we have seen such a provocative film; it produced an intense discussion between us, as we both came to different conclusions. Granted, we both began watching it with differing preconceived notions about the outcome, or rather…the “truth.” Interestingly, neither of us knew that the other had any biases in the beginning, which led us both to be surprised at our opposing interpretations. Not only did we disagree about the “truth” (I have the word in quotes because the film does not resolve itself with the truth, hence the title Doubt), but we had wildly different understandings of specific scenes. There are at least two particular conversations in the film that I perceived meanings from, which perceptions I thought to be quite obvious, but that my husband not only disagreed with but was surprised by the meanings that I took to be obvious!
Am I confusing you? Perhaps you should watch the movie. It is quite thought provoking. Be prepared for very heavy material going into it, for this is definitely not a light, easily resolved drama. The question that both my husband and I are left wondering is whether or not the writer, John Patrick Shanley, himself knows what the truth is…or has he intentionally refused certainty a place in his own mind? Knowing the answer to this question would at least give the audience some guidance in forming our conclusions, but I suspect that guiding us toward a conclusion is actually the last thing he wants to do. His intention is for us to wonder…to doubt…to think.
As stated by Jeremy Barker in his review of the orignial play: “Doubt…takes as its subject not the effect of sexual abuse by priests but rather the gray area that lies between fact and accusation, and its dramatic action somewhat unsurprisingly leads the audience to questions rather than answers.” Even as I said that my husband and I both came to different conclusions, the fact is, after a lengthy and deep discussion afterward, neither of us were certain of our conclusions at all…we each led the other to doubt them.