Thursday, July 3, 2014

Anatomy Of A Performance: Viola Davis in Doubt (2008)

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of Anatomy Of A Performance. For today's episode, I figured I'd dissect a performance that proves just how you can leave such a mark with such little screentime. That performance is by Viola Davis for her Oscar-nominated turn as Mrs. Miller in Doubt.



        In the beginning of the clip, if you notice Mrs. Miller's facial movements and how her head is down, you can catch a sense of worry, but as the scene progresses, you begin to understand why. As the scene does progress, Sister Aloysius, played by Meryl Streep, starts digging at her about the sex abuse allegation against her son, she becomes more hesitant to talk about it. But at around 2:13, her mood switches to slightly agitated, signaling how she doesn't want to get involved in this whole thing, nor her son. Aloysius continues and Mrs. Miller keeps steeping away, but then comes to a halt at about 4:10, where she just begins to pour out her heart to the camera. As the tears flow from her eyes, there is a sense of desperation. Mrs. Miller begins to look frantic as she is trying to explain her side of the story. Since this film is set in the 60's, if you are familiar with those times, you can actually sympathize with Mrs. Miller and why she is trying to put her son through school in spite of the allegations he is involved in. The boy had three strikes against him: He was a black homosexual living in the 60's and at the time, homosexuality and race relations weren't considered fashionable. Plus, as stated in the clip, the boy has an abusive father. So, even though she is explaining her reasoning, Viola Davis still tells us what is going through her character's mind while still letting her eyes and facial expressions do the talking. Normally, we see performances where the actor actually speaks out their emotions yet we also see performances where actors show us what their characters are going through without having to actually say anything at all. But, here we have an actress that pulls off a performance that is able to mesh the two together and not just hold her own against acting goliath Meryl Streep.


So, that was my analysis of Viola Davis' short-but-brief performance in Doubt. I will potentially do my next Anatomy episode tomorrow. But until I do my next episode, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this one!