Thursday, June 4, 2009



Last year’s Oscar-nominated film Doubt stars Meryl Streep as a nun who accuses a pastor (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) of molesting a child at their Catholic parish. Quite the taboo topic, and one not spoken about enough in movies. Doubt is one of last year’s most thought-provoking films. It left me thinking about it long after I left the theater.

John Patrick Shanley, the director of the film, adapted it to the screen from his own stage production. The movie, at times, feels like it would be a bit more adept for the stage, but that’s not necessarily a detrimental remark. I just mean that its dialogue drives it. At last year’s Oscars, it was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. I think it should’ve won.

The script wouldn’t have worked, however, if it were not for the performances. Oh, the performances. What a glorious cast! Meryl Streep is, as always, brilliant as the suspicious Sister Aloysius. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is, as always, stunning and natural as the accused Father Flynn. Amy Adams is, as always, wonderful as Sister James, the one caught in the middle of the two. All three of them were nominated for Oscars for their performances here, as was Viola Davis for her great but brief role as the boy’s mother.

I don’t only love the film for its script and acting, though. I love it for its ambiguousness. At the end of the film, we are never told whether Father Flynn committed the evil acts he has been accused of or not. We are left with a broken sister Aloysius crying on the shoulder of Sister James, questioning her own suspicions. Was Flynn guilty? Was Aloysius right to accuse him? Was she right to destroy his life and have him removed from the parish? We don’t know. We must decide for ourselves.


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