Thursday, January 15, 2009

Doubt

MUST-SEE: (John Patrick Shanley) On the surface, Doubt is the story of the warm-hearted Father Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), accused of child abuse at St. Nicholas Catholic School. The deeper story is that of Sister Aloysius, played remarkably by Meryl Streep, who accuses Flynn without proof, without reason, and only with her certainty that he has done wrong. She has her doubts that Flynn is struggling from his first sermon in the film, announcing often people doubt their faith, but without it we wouldn't respect its strength. Aside from his questionable sermon, he openly practices taboos like long fingernails, lots of drinking and allowing himself pleasures of sugar and tobacco which all give Aloysius a sense of urgency to get rid of him. She all but waits for an excuse to take Flynn down. Therein lies motif number 3, as she is limited by the church's authority. Meshing that into the doubt eating its way through the church guarantees a woven play of dark reality. Aloysius says, "In taking a step towards addressing wrong doing, you are taking a step away from God, but in his service." This quote embodies the film's attempt to constantly force the viewer (and the other characters) to question who is right, what are we certain of, and ultimately, what good does it do to know? Amy Adams does a tremendous job as the innocent Sister James, who is the first to suspect Flynn but unconvinced whether or not his taboo acts actually equal wrong doing. She is quickly caught in the middle of her faith's requirements and her heart's belief, in the end not able to sleep at night again. The finger points back and forth, leaving not one scene slow or tedious. Emotions run on high, and if you're left with tears in your eyes or a breath caught in your chest it is the deep deep pathos within this script and the ability our stars have to capture it so immensely. Truly this deserves Academy recognition.

1 comment:

Ann-Marie said...

Pride comes before the fall. Philip Seymour Hoffman is painted as the antagonist of the film, but as the plot unfolds the audience is left with a feeling of uncertainty. There is an internal struggle with who you want to believe and who has the best interest of the students at heart. Do you side with the radical, yet seemingly compassionate Father Flynn? Or do you side with Sister Aloysis and her "certainty"? And in the end, who bows out more gracefully?