While ostensibly a genre piece of the most entertaining kind (I’m very partial to the serials of Louis Feuillade and Chor Yuen – caper films where masked criminals are pitted against master detective figures), I do think of Doubt primarily as a movie of ideas. It’s a movie about the death of a certain aspect of American culture – to be exact, corrupt corporate America as represented by Old White Men. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with old white men – I hope to live long enough to be one someday.
Corruption in Doubt is embodied in the character of Joe Van Zwick, the villainous CEO of “World Energy Inc.” When Joe, half-businessman and half-gangster, dresses up like Uncle Sam for Halloween, you know that the subtler nuances of allegory have flown out the window. Van Zwick is like Ken Lay or countless other modern day corrupt CEOs, a villain torn from the thrilling pages of life.
But Doubt is also about the rising up of another kind of culture – an idealistic, multicultural generation represented by the youthful characters of Linnea Chiang, Edgar Alvarez and even the third-rate gangsters Mr. Mutt and Mr. Lang. These are characters who work for the Van Zwicks of the world but are in the process of struggling to break free from their positions of subordination. What will happen should these characters be able to turn the tables and assume positions of power and influence themselves? I can’t say. I’m only attempting to document the struggle.
When I tell people that I’m a filmmaker, they often want to know who my “influences” are. Truthfully, the biggest single influence on Doubt was the world that I was seeing and responding to at the time that the movie was created. I hope that you too might recognize something of this world and perhaps even be hugely entertained in the process.
– Michael Smith