Sunday, February 2, 2014


Doubt is a loving portrait of Catholic grade school that addresses the issue of sex abuse with ambiguity, which I think is the right approach to take. The film opens in 1964 Brooklyn as a local community makes its way to the parish of St. Nicholas one Sunday morning for mass. The newly arrived priest, a progressive from the new wave of Vatican II priest, is giving a sermon on doubt, and how it can be as reassuring as faith. The following day, as the children arrive at the school, we meet Sr. Aloysius, a stern and traditional nun and principal of the school as well as Sr. James, a fresh faced and optimistic member. As the days go on at St. Nicholas, Sr. James sees something odd take place between Fr. Flynn and the sole black child at the school. She reports it to Sr. Aloyisus, who soon accuses the priest of wrongdoing. What follows is a verbal showdown between the two, and the viewer is left to his own devices to decide what really happened. Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, Doubt has every detail about Catholic school down to a t, from the stern nun who detests berets and ballpoint pens, to the bright eyed nun who believes she'll change the world, to the friendly priest whom the kids look up to. The script is wonderfully written and carefully devised, not letting the viewer off easy and causing him/her to think. The film also serves as an acting showcase for Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis who shines as the boy's mother in an extended devastating scene. Doubt is a great film that holds reverence for an institution that it knows needs to be changed.