It’s 1964, the location is a Catholic grade school in the Bronx named St.Nicholas. It’s ruled by the stern hand of sister
Aloysius(Meryl Streep). She watches over the children and fellow nuns, but is particularly interested in the new parish priest,
Father Flynn(Philip Seymour Hoffman). It may have some to do with Sister Aloysius being as “Old School” as one can be in regards
to the church. She dislikes any changes to accomedate modern ideas as they were in 1964. Father Flynn on the other hand,
welcomes changes within the church and embraces the idea of modernizing it. The one african-American student in the school may
have more to do with Sister Aloysius’s watchful eye towards Father Flynn. His name is Donald Miller(Joseph Foster). Father Flynn
encourages him in sports and annoints him as an altar boy.
Sister James(Amy Adams)is the one who seals Father Flynn’s fate by observing Donald Miller being summoned to Father Flynn’s
office, and later the boy has a strange expression on his face. She also notices an odd scene: Father Flynn placing Donald
Miller’s shirt back in his locker.
The film is directed by John Michael Shanley from his Pulitzer and Tony winning play. He has not directed a motion picture
since 1990’s “Joe vs. The Volcano”. He does a solid job in putting together the difficult subject matter in the story. The film
plays as almost a mystery more than anything else. The viewer only sees suspicious behaviour, which Father Flynn does seem to
have an explanation for. Nothing is damning. So is Father Flynn guilty of sexual abuse, or is he getting his reputation and
perhaps career ended unfairly due to the suspicion of Sister Aloysius? It also makes the viewer look on with interesting eyes
coming from present day. Things are viewed differently
Sister James, after being the one who brought these concerns to Sister Aloysius, seems to regret the problems that have
occured as a result. In a unplanned meeting outside, Father Flynn expresses concern for the ill brother of Sister James. She
clearly has a different belief in Father Fynn as Sister Aloysius. She is ready to accept his explanations and move on.
Watching Streep, Hoffman and Adams together is a real treat. Streep and Hoffman are Oscar winners, and while Adams isn’t as
well known, she stands toe to toe with both in many dramatic scenes. She’s a very good actress on the rise. Viola Davis is an
example of making the most out of limited screentime. She’s sensational in perhaps the most dramatic scene in the film. She
plays Donald’s mother, who has a rather suprise response to Sister Aloysius’ charges against Father Flynn concerning her son.
If there’s one reservation concerning “Doubt”, it’s the very last line of the film. I never bought the character who says it.
It seems completely out of left field and not consistant with the person’s other actions in the film. It also feels very
melodramatic, something the film avoided previously despite it’s heavy subject matter. Despite it being the last impression
however, it is not enough to ruin the fine experience of watching great actors at the top of their game.