Thursday, November 3, 2011

Doubt (2008) PG13 - 4 Stars

Taking place in 1964, in St. Nicholas an area of the Bronx, this film is everything you would imagine a strict Catholic school to have been like. What I really liked so much about this movie is the great performances by all three leads. Meryl Streep fits her role playing the principle as an "old school" nun. Amy Adams is a naive school teacher struggling to keep her mind open to the good in all man and Philip Seymour Hoffman is a Priest accused of major wrong doings in the church. Perhaps it's the intent of the director to leave doubt in your mind at it's closure but I think it was a great drama up to that point and then collapses.

Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), is the principle of St. Nicholas Catholic School. Her methods are tough as she believes you can not give the child an opportunity to screw up, as they will take it. She lives her life calculating their next move so she can stay one step ahead of them. Upon visiting the class of Sister James (Amy Adams), she hangs a photo of the Pope of the chalk board proving the wrong doings of the children when her back is turned. As Sister James realizes the children do take advantage of her behind her back, she begins to have doubts of her effectiveness as a teacher and the trust of her students.

Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), head Priest of St. Nicholas, has Sister Aloysius's strong eye watching his every move. She feels Father Flynn is becoming too chummy with most of the boys and feels his behavior inappropriate. Father Flynn has tried to become the children's friend so they have someone to turn to when their young lives have problems. He feels it is important to allow the children to be more free allowing them more happiness. But when she looks out her window and sees the Father grab the arm of a child who flinches away, she is convinced her has crossed the line of friendship. Sister Aloysius puts the word out to keep eyes on Father Flynn in order to catch him in mischievous activity.

While practicing for the upcoming Christmas pageant for the school, Sister James sees Father Flynn put something into one of the young boys lockers. After he has left the room, she opens the locker and finds a young boys undershirt. Her suspicious grow when one of her students is called away to meet Father Flynn during class hours. When the boy returns, he is sluggish, acts peculiar and puts his head down and Sister James smells alcohol on his breath. She reports her findings to Sister Aloysius who is now positive her acquisations are correct. Along with Sister James, Sister Aloysius decide to confront Father Flynn. After the conversation is finished, Sister James is convinced the Father has done nothing wrong and wants to get back to her regular activities at the school. But Sister Aloysius refuses to believe Father Flynn innocence and begins a one woman crusade to see him fall.

Awards include:

2008 - Broadcast Film Critics Association - Best Actress
2008 - Houston Film Critics - Best Ensemble
2008 - Screen Actors Guild - Best Actress
2008 - National Board of Review - Best Ensemble Cast

Miramax Films
Director: John Patrick Shanley
Writer: John Patrick Shanley
Producers: Mark Roybal, Scott Rudin
I viewed 4/10

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