Movie Hype
New Releases, Oscar-Winners and Obscure Movies!
Doubt (2008)

A movie directed by John Patrick Shanley

< read all 15 reviews

"In the pursuit of wrong-doing, one steps away from God. Of course, there is a price ..."

  • Apr 14, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+5
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 to be on the look-out. Sister James (Amy Adams) joins the witch hunt and suggests that Father Flynn has too much interest in the school's first African-American pupil, an eighth-grade boy. There is no proof, only ugly suspicion, and the boy's mother (Viola Davis) wants to shove the question under the rug and let her son graduate and get on to high school without addressing the matter. In the end, Sister James recants.

The story was topical and the performances award-worthy. While I enjoyed this short movie very much, there are a few points that gave me pause and are worth mentioning. For one thing, it adheres quite strictly to its antecedents as a play; some of the long scenes are occasionally static, and there is little attempt to develop back-story. We learn that Sister Aloysius also has experienced doubt--is it enough to know that, or should the viewer have been indulged with more background on what made her so hard-boiled? These decisions by playwright-screenwriter-director John Patrick Shanley are no doubt deliberate choices and they set a timeless, almost allegorical tone.

Another question--and one I can't answer even though I was a Catholic school pupil in the year this movie was set--is whether the suspicions of the nuns are realistic in their time, or whether they are informed by later revelations. The case (if you can call it that) against Father Flynn is outlined with a very broad brush; his groomed fingernails, his progressive manner, the smell of alcohol on a boy's breath and the assumption that the priest provided it. Still, that IS the way of witch hunts, and Doubt isn't actually about Father Flynn's guilt or innocence, but about the toxic moral environment in which innuendo is as damning as proof.

Meryl Streep is one of the greats performing today, and she played the narrow-minded harpy brilliantly. The character's flashes of humor and doubt are an interesting variation from the more augustly foreboding figure that might have been created for Sister Aloysius. Likewise, Hoffman is brilliantly convincing as the modern-thinking priest who dares to suggest a secular song for the Christmas pageant. In both these characters, true to the name of the film, the question of guilt or innocence is left intriguingly unanswered. In the end the question is not of guilt or innocence, it seems, but of our moral reaction to it.

Linda Bulger, 2009

What did you think of this review?

Helpful
0
Thought-Provoking
0
Fun to Read
0
Well-Organized
0
Post a Comment
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
Linda Bulger ()
Ranked #135
When I love a book, I want to wave it in somebody's face and say "Look! Read this!" The internet was made for people like me, don't you think? The lunch.com crowd seems friendly enough...   … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

You
Linda_in_Maine
Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie

Wiki

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...
view wiki

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
First to Review
© 2014 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
Movie Hype is part of the Lunch.com Network - Get this on your site
()
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since
reviews
comments
ratings
questions
compliments
lists