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