Viola Davis goes head-to-head with Meryl Streep in John Patrick Shanley’s, “Doubt” (2008).

This is my go-to scene for the raw dissection of the craft.
And in this scene, two giants go toe-to-toe. 
This is the first time, I think, that I’ve seen Meryl have to actually WORK to keep up with a co-star. Viola is a beast. No doubt about it.

Standout Moments In The Scene:

  • The avoidance Viola laces the character in, is SO beautiful. So real. So HUMAN.
  • “Sister, you ain’t goin’ against no man in a robe, and win. He’s got the position!” | “And he’s got your son!!!” | “LET HIM HAVE HIM THEN!!!” - - -BOOM! That line is just…fuuuuuck! “Let him have him then!” This woman just told you that she believes your son is being inappropriately manipulated by this grown man, and you respond with: “Let him have him then!” My god! The desperation of a mother who believes that her son being in this school is important enough to allow some grown man to lead him into an inappropriate relationship! Damn. What a beautifully raw and flawed human being!
  • “What kind of mother are you?” | The moment between that line, and “Mrs. Miller’s” response to it is just DELICIOUS!! Viola allows that ATTACK to register, rest within her, and then be dismissed. She chose not to attack, but rather dismiss. “Excuse me, but you don’t know enough about life to say a thing like that sister.” | Wig = snatched!
  • By the time Viola/Mrs. Miller breaks on the line, “That’s why his father beat him…”, we’re already COMPLETELY invested in her story, her life, and the outcome. When she continues to reveal her families private info, Meryl’s eyes and defeat are just glorious! She (Meryl) entered the scene as this “Lion of Justice”, and ended up exiting the scene as a “withered, battle-worn, oak tree”. The journey of an actor! Beautiful.
  • Viola’s last line is perfect for closing the scene: “Sister, I don’t know if you and me are on the same side, but I’ll be standing with my son and those who are good with my son. It’d be nice to see you there. Good morning.” | Meryl/Sister Aloysius is no longer in control.
  • Did anyone notice how the entire scene up until 6:50 was void of music? GREAT CHOICE! Music tends to lead scenes. It tends to force an audience to FEEL a certain way. When music isn’t used, it leaves the emotions up to US. Some of us probably sided with Sister Aloysius. Some probably sided with Mrs. Miller. But that’s the beautiful thing: WE WERE ALLOWED TO DECIDE! We weren’t coerced by the soundtrack. | When the music does finally come in, it’s at the right moment. Accents the end of the tension and the fight. It’s an eerie composition. An eerie composition for an eerie scene!

The scene is SO beautifully crafted by the filmmakers, director, actors, etc. It flows seamlessly. The story is AIDED by the scene. That’s rare in today’s film market, sadly.


“Dancing Horizontally”, by Damone Williams.


I want to find a person I can spend the whole of my life with. Someone to hold my hand. To kiss my neck. To make love to…

Our bodies…overflowing with love & passion…”dancing” tightly together, horizontally. Moving to the “beat” of our hearts true tune.

Moving…a Waltz, then a Calypso beat…we revisit the Waltz again, until a Latin beat takes over. 1-2, 1, 2, 3..1-2, 1, 2, 3…

The Calypso beat returns. This time, more fiery than before. Beat. Beat! BEAT!! Our palms touch, fingers intertwine. We squeeze…

We hit a note so high and so sweet. Exhale. Inhale. Bodies collapse into each other. I whisper, “I love you…” You whisper it back…

Bodies sweaty…glistening…I kiss the spot right between your neck and shoulder. You quiver…

We breathe…our breathing has become synchronized. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. I smile. You giggle. And we call it a night.

© 2011 - Damone Williams.




Self-portrait with Kwame Nkrumah, Roy Ankrah and his wife Rebecca, Accra, Ghana


Ph: James Barbor



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