Add This to Your Netflix Queue: Doubt

This is one film from the ’08 Oscar season that I’ve been waiting to see.  It didn’t disappoint.  Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, and Amy Adams all deserved the Oscar nominations they received (and Meryl Streep should have won for her role as the vicious sister Aloysius).

The IMBD synopsis:

It’s 1964, St. Nicholas in the Bronx. A charismatic priest, Father Flynn, is trying to upend the schools’ strict customs, which have long been fiercely guarded by Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the iron-gloved Principal who believes in the power of fear and discipline. The winds of political change are sweeping through the community, and indeed, the school has just accepted its first black student, Donald Miller. But when Sister James, a hopeful innocent, shares with Sister Aloysius her guilt-inducing suspicion that Father Flynn is paying too much personal attention to Donald, Sister Aloysius sets off on a personal crusade to unearth the truth and to expunge Flynn from the school. Now, without a shard of proof besides her moral certainty, Sister Aloysius locks into a battle of wills with Father Flynn which threatens to tear apart the community with irrevocable consequence.

I found this movie to be filled with paranoia and tension, especially toward the end as sister Aloysius and father Flynn are locked in a battle of the wills, which sister Aloysius wins (as she said she would).  Throughout the movie, I found myself wondering, “Did he or didn’t he?”  The issue was never truly resolved, which strengthened the movie.

“Doubt” is a great study about what doubt about a person’s reputation can do, and the dangers of pursuing those doubts without a shred of evidence.  It shows how dangerous situational ethics can be.  As sister Aloysius says twice in the film, “The pursuit of wrongdoing can lead you far from God.”  It definitely shows the destructive power of gossip and slander–both on the person gossiped about and on the gossiper. 

“Doubt” isn’t a fast paced action thrill ride.  It’s a little slow and plodding, so don’t start it at 11:30 PM.  But it’s definitely worth viewing.  Here’s the trailer

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About Aaron

Aaron is a follower of Jesus. He's married to his smokin' hot wife Laura and is the father of three adorable girls. He enjoys a robust cigar, a complex root beer, a good movie, writing, football, thought-provoking books, and rousing discussions about subjects you're not supposed to talk about (like theology and politics). Religious people irritate him (because he once was one). He's on a quest to find the perfect dry rub and sauce for ribs.
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11 Responses to Add This to Your Netflix Queue: Doubt

  1. monkeylove2002 says:

    I don’t know sister.

  2. Nick Vipperman says:

    Saw this the other day. Enjoyed it. It certainly does make you think about how important personal character and integrity are. Certainly living a life that is above reproach is a stark reminder to me after seeing that movie.

  3. Larry says:

    Unfortunately, this film pretty much sums up the church in general. Religious leaders not just sinning, but commiting MONSTEROUS sins and then denying they did it with their lips, but admitting they did it by handing in a resignation. I relate more to the Meryl Streep character because she was no nonsense snd didnt care how painful the truth was to hear, she wanted the truth regardless. The Amy Adams character was the attitude of about 95% of religious people—–even when they might suspect something might b true, it is still denied because thats not what they “want to hear”. Good movie. The Wrestler was a much better movie. Mickey Rourke was very robbed of an Oscar. Sean Penn was good in Milk, but Rourke was better and The Wrestler was better than Milk. My next film to see is Frost/Nixon and then I might see Angels and Demons in the theater—-both Ron Howard films.

    • Aaron says:

      The Wrestler is next on my Netflix queue.

      I like your thoughts about Doubt, but to me, the viewer was left unsure if the priest actually did it or not. The resignation, in my opinion, wasn’t an admition of guilt–it was a realization that Meryl Stree’s character was going to bury him if it was true or not. Remember, she had absolutely no evidence or proof… just her suspicion. It was a witch hunt. Too many Christians act like that–assuming things about people with no evidence and not even having the decency to talk to the person face-to-face.

      Good thoughts.

  4. Larry says:

    I completely disagree with your comment “the viewer was left unsure if the priest actually did it or not. The resignation, in my opinion, wasn’t an admition of guilt–it was a realization that Meryl Stree’s character was going to bury him if it was true or not.”

    In my opinion, several things made the priests’ guilt evident. 1) The fact that it took the priest so long to tell Streep what the “real” reason was that the boy was called to the rectory. Why didnt he immediately tell her what the reason was? Instead, he acts very suspicious and tells Streep to leave the matter alone—–why not just tell her what it was right away? There was no reason not to. 2) The fact that he was at his 3rd parish in 5 years—-not evidence that he molested the boy, but evidence of issues. Why didnt he tell Streep what the reasons were he “left”/got canned from the other 2 parishes? 3) The resignation is guilt. If he had done nothing wrong, how was Streep going to bury him? Simply asking the boy if he had been molested wouldnt have accomplished much since the boys picked on him in the school and his father abused him. If he was being abused, the boy probably felt that the molestation was either how he was supposed to be treated, OR he may have known it was wrong, but in testifying against the priest, the boy would have given up his protection by the priest from the other boys and he would have been giving up being treated “kind” (at least in the boy’s mind) by SOMEONE.

    Warning, The Wrestler has several scenes of nudity. Morisa Tomei is a stripper in the movie and it shows another woman naked in another scene. Personally I liked it (Tomei is hot), but its not a movie to sit down and watch with the kiddies or at a Bible study. The scene where Rourke breaks down and cries in front of his daughter is very moving. It was a fantastic performance. The ending leaves you hanging. Good movie.

    My favorite film so far of 2009 is “Taken”, the Liam Neeson movie—–excellent, excellent, excellent. When it comes out, rent it immediately or buy it. Constant action and Neeson’s performance is spectacular.

    • Aaron says:

      The priest’s reluctance to say anything could be taken as evidence of guilt or… what the priest said it was. This film took place back in the ’60’s, when racial tensions were running high. Hoffman’s priest character could indeed have wanted to protect the boy and the boy’s position as altar boy. Also, being three places in five year is certainly a sign of issues, but not outright evidence of what Streep’s character had insinuated. Finally, resignations are not always admissions of guilt. Being a preacher, I’ve heard way too many stories where other preachers are forced out of the churches they served because “the dragon(s) are hungry.” Nothing wrong was done–somebody simply had an agenda, as Meryl Streep’s character had. I think the evidence was all circumstantial at best–as Streep’s admissions of doubt at the end of the movie indicate (although her doubt is certainly about much greater things… namely her faith).

      All in all, it looks like this is one where we’ll have to agree to disagree. And “The Wrestler” will be on the way once I unfreeze my Netflix account after we move next week.

  5. Larry says:

    By the way Aaron, one of the BEST films I have seen in the last year is “The Bucket List”, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. It was excellent. It was very intellectually written. I would tell you my favorite scenes, but dont want to give it away if you havent seen it. It is an excellent movie.

    When I told my brother about it (he reads movie reviews), he said “It got bad reviews”. I said, “I dont care about reviews, you need to see it”. He watched it and called me and said “Man, Larry, man….man…man…(by this time I said “what??? what??”)—then he continued…”I just watched ‘The Bucket List”. I said, “great, wasnt it?” He said, “I think it may have profoundly changed my life”. I said, “I told you reviews dont mean crap.”

  6. Larry says:

    Yes, Streep’s character did have an agenda, but it was based on his odd behavior and questionable actions and his unwillingness to discuss it and him getting angry very easily about something he was supposed to be “innocent” of. Ive known quite a few people who have left churches simply because of what you said—an agenda the elders/church members had that was based on no wrong doing of the minister they wanted out, but simply because they ‘didnt like’ something or because they wanted to control the minister’s life.

    This is one aspect (just one small one) of why I left religion and the church—-but I mainly left because Ive come to realize most stories in the Bible just cannot be true, they just cant. The Bible is chock full of stories in which if the exact same type of stories were told by some street corner apostle in today’s world, we’d all call him a kook. I get called a kook about my beliefs about 9-11, and MOST of my beliefs about 9-11 are actually factual reports from mainstram news stories or from video footage and I STILL get called a kook by the ones who have not taken 30 seconds of their life to investigate it——but yet we are supposed to take the unproven, silly and just plain unscientific stories from the Bible at face value and just accept them without any question? Sorry, the fact that I have a thinking and functional brain prevents me from doing that.

    Wanna know something very very true that I read the other day in an article that I had previously thought of, but until I read someone else say it, didnt formulate my thought fully? The writer said “Everyone is really agnostic about God, because the whole idea and definition of agnosticism is that God cannot be proven to exist and no one can REALLY know for sure—-so since NO ONE can know for sure, everyone is really an agnostic.” I found that very profound and very true. Im sure you disagree because you (as well as MOST christians or religious people) think you KNOW God exists, but in reality, you dont. If you KNEW God exists, you would have absolutely no need to have faith. Faith and certainty are the complete opposite of each other. Its not debatable, it cant be denied. Faith would be of no use to you if you KNEW God existed. Thats irrefutable fact.

    Im beginning to ditch the whole concept of good and evil too. Im starting to believe that theres really no such thing as evil. Now, in no way am I excusing people like Hitler and Mussolini, but I believe that theres natural acts and unnatural acts. To commit what you’d call “evil” is really just a human defect. Its like having a malfunctioning car. Do you call your car evil if it doesnt work? I realize people are different and they make choices—but I believe the choices that are called “evil” are really unnatural human acts. Im not explaining this as well as I have read on the subject. Im sure you completely disagree and thats ok–its ok to disagree. To say that a person is “evil” or they do “evil” is kind of an admittance that God created in people the capacity to commit evil acts. How can God, who is not evil, beget evil?

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