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Review: ‘Doubting Thomas’ takes on racial biases through didactic oversimplification

Jamie Hector, Will McFadden, ‘Doubting Thomas’
Jamie Hector, left, and Will McFadden in the movie “Doubting Thomas.”
(Phil Parmet / Doubting Thomas)

Recessive genes and mistrust code the DNA of Will McFadden’s insipid drama “Doubting Thomas,” a mostly hackneyed lesson on racial biases desperately stumbling to appear provocative. It does, however, occasionally raise inquiries worthy of pensive consideration.

Go-getter lawyer Tom (McFadden) misses his son’s birth on a fluke. When he finally reaches wife Jen (Sarah Butler) postpartum, he’s baffled to learn their newborn baby is black, as they are both presumably Caucasian. Conveniently, Tom’s best friend and co-worker Ron (Jamie Hector), an African American man, steps into the limelight as prime suspect for the betrayal in which the white man believes himself to be the victim.

Halfway through this blandly shot and desaturated would-be Lifetime movie, Jen’s mother Kate (Melora Walters) unleashes a seismic revelation made all the more awkward by the mixed bag of dramatic renditions. The brazen turn at least gives McFadden’s narrative room to inflict moral ambivalence on his implicitly racist set of characters. As much as Tom strives to keep his fears in check, pride and prejudice sting potently.

It’s only when McFadden shifts his gaze to Jen while she reflectively observes her features in the mirror, or to Ron’s speech about being profiled wherever he goes, that the stakes broaden. Fortunately, through these futile bits the white filmmaker seems to briefly ruminate on the matter beyond his own experience.

‘Doubting Thomas’
Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes

Playing: Starts Oct. 11, Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood
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