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Doubt (2008)

A movie directed by John Patrick Shanley

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One Not to Miss

  • Apr 13, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+5
"Doubt"

One Not to Miss

Amos Lassen

If there is a movie that you do not want to miss, make sure it is "Doubt". The acting is so fine and the script is so literate that if you miss it you will have missed an exciting experience.
Meryl Streep proves that she is the finest actress working today and she gives another bravura performance as Sister Aloysius, the principal of a Catholic secondary school that is in the midst of social change in 1964. She is pitted against Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Father Flynn who is genius in his own role. There are other performances as well that are powerful--Any Adams shows us the innocence of the breakdown of church authority and she is brilliant. Likewise Viola Davis as the mother of the only Black student at the school in one long scene completely owns the screen during her time on camera. She is forced to accept the fact that her son is gay at a time that the subject was not discussed at the time and she had to do so to avoid a much greater evil. Either way is destructive for her and she is amazing.
The title "Doubt" shows us that we each have a limited capacity for dealing with degrees of doubt and that if we spend our time on the small doubts, we do not have the energy to deal with the larger issues especially the issue of our relation to God.
Let me add another word about Meryl Streep. She totally inhabits the "habit" of Sister Aloysius. She is uncanny and she fights for her own future with the church and her own authority, we see that she has no place for doubt in her life. There are no gray areas for her. I do not want to go into the plot of the film because I believe to do so would deprive someone of a wonderful cinema experience. Let it suffice to day that Sister Aloysius is not concerned about the boy's welfare. It is her future that rests on getting rid of Father Flynn and what she considers his blasphemous ideas of progress which would call her own authority into question. She tries to enforce her ideas of normalcy and her own value system because she fears that progress will find her authority to be no longer needed or necessary. She lives in an archaic world of black and white and we see her as a woman lacking humor and almost devoid of humanity that is not to her liking.

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More Doubt reviews
review by . January 22, 2011
(some spoilers)      Doubt has the benefit of a great cast, an incredibly well-written story and good direction from the same man who wrote the play. It's definitely not one for everyone, especially those who need explosions and half-naked women to enjoy a movie. It is very dialogue-heavy, and before seeing this movie I had the benefit of reading the play. The movie definitely maintains faithfulness to the play and I am glad that Hollywood did not ruin the play. Every single …
review by . July 23, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Doubt DVD cover
“A truth that’s told with bad intent… Beats all the lies you can invent.” -William Blake   “It was the schoolboy who said, ‘Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.’” -Mark Twain   There’s a certain quality that a simple work of art possesses that allows it to transcend differences of perspective and opinion, that makes it appealing to people of separate demographics, and that enables people with contrary perceptions to unite …
review by . December 27, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: The camerawork and settings are pretty good      Cons: Weak story, weak characters, weak acting, poor pacing      The Bottom Line: I was ultimately bored.  There was nothing about the story or characters that indicated it was worth any mental/emotional investment.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. To limit the risk of accidental plagiarism, I tend only to read reviews of the …
review by . April 13, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
teaser poster
Based on the award-winning play and adapted for the screen by John Patrick Shanley, who also directs this film, "DOUBT" is a riveting, powerful film full of raw emotional drama that registers as something truly worthy of praise. It has been made outstanding by the exceptional performances that would give you goose bumps and enough meat to talk about after the first viewing. It is just a film almost impossible to ignore with its superb direction, beautiful but simple cinematography--truly …
Quick Tip by . August 26, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Unlike religion, I won't tell you what to believe. But I will tell you, without a doubt, that this movie is great, so go check it out!!!
review by . June 01, 2009
Ok, I admit that I had to be forced to watch this. The idea of priests, nuns and potential child abuse is a toxic mix of boredom that makes My Beautiful Launderette seem like a great night of entertainment. It's definitely not my sort of film, but I'll admit that it doesn't have any dragging scenes or slow moments at all, and ranks as one of the best dramas in a long time. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep (where do actors get their names?) turn in fine performances, …
review by . April 16, 2009
DOUBT is a riveting movie with a terrific cast. The story is set in a Catholic school in the mid-1960s, fixed in time by reference to the assassination of JFK. Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) is the tough principal who has no time for the popular, progressive priest of the parish, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman). When he preaches a sermon on doubt--the lack of moral clarity and how to find your way through it--she sees it as a personal statement of his guilt about something, and warns her nuns …
review by . December 26, 2008
I'll admit that the commercials for this movie didn't make it seem terribly worth seeing. In fact, most of my friends had no idea what I was talking about when I told them I saw this movie. But talk about an exciting drama that somehow leaves you with no solid answers! Despite that, Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman deliver a stunning performance that makes you forget you're in 2008. They take you back to the 1970s where a private Catholic school struggles with staying in the past, or advancing …
review by . May 25, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Sorry, I'm going to be on the other side of this film, thinking it's not that great. To me it felt like a train wreck running in super slow motion. The story is a fairly well known story, there is no doubt about what will happen. Maybe the only glimmer of doubt I had was how explicit would the director be in describing what happened.     Details unfolded so slowly. This felt like a movies from the 20's or 30's or a Victorian novel, where there was a different viewer dynamic; …
review by . February 08, 2009
Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):     1. Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep) is the iron-fisted Principal of a Catholic school in the Bronx   2. A sermon by Catholic priest Father Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) causes her to voice some concerns   3. Young Sister James (Amy Adams) notices that Father Flynn is paying special attention to a male student from a minority group   4. She voices her concerns to Sister Aloysius, who believes her concerns …
About the reviewer
Amos Lassen ()
Ranked #86
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities.   I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … more
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It's always a risk when writers direct their own work, since some playwrights don't travel well from stage to screen. Aided by Roger Deakins, ofNo Country for Old Menfame, who vividly captures the look of a blustery Bronx winter,Moonstruck's John Patrick Shanley pulls it off. IfDoubtmakes for a dialogue-heavy experience, likeThe Crucibleand12 Angry Men, the words and ideas are never dull, and a consummate cast makes each one count. Set in 1964 and loosely inspired by actual events, Shanley focuses on St. Nicholas, a Catholic primary school that has accepted its first African-American student, Donald Miller (Joseph Foster), who serves as altar boy to the warm-hearted Father Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Donald may not have any friends, but that doesn't worry his mother, Mrs. Miller (Viola Davis in a scene-stealing performance), since her sole concern is that her son gets a good education. When Sister James (Amy Adams) notices Flynn concentrating more of his attentions on Miller than the other boys, she mentions the matter to Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), the school's hard-nosed principal. Looking for any excuse to push the progressive priest out of her tradition-minded institution, Sister Aloysius sets out to destroy him, and if that means ruining Donald's future in the process--so be it. Naturally, she's the least sympathetic combatant in this battle, but Streep invests her disciplinarian with wit and unexpected flashes of empathy. Of...
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Details

Genre: Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Release Date: 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: John Patrick Shanley
DVD Release Date: April 07, 2009
Runtime: 1hr 44min
Studio: Miramax
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