A suspicious nun begins to question a priest's seemingly
ambiguous relationship with a young boy in his parish.
Written and Directed by John Patrick Shanley
Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams,
Viola Davis, Joseph Foster, Lloyd Clay Brown, Mike Roukis
Based on the stage play Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley
Oscar Nominations - Best Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Supporting Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Best Supporting Actress
(Amy Adams), Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis),
Best Adapted Screenplay
Doubt is a troubling film, but it's a smart film as well. It takes a subject matter that's devastating, and turns it into a sort of mystery. Did Father Flynn act inappropriately? Did he harm the boy? By the end, we don't really know, and the film leaves you with enough evidence for either side. But Hoffman's performance is so damn endearing that you want him to be innocent, and Streep's performance is so damn irrational that you want her to be wrong about Father Flynn. This is a film that questions the faith we put in the ones we consider our spiritual teachers, priests and nuns and so forth. In every way, they're just as flawed as the rest of us, and not many films showcase this quite often.
When Father Flynn (Hoffman) begins taking an interest in a troubled young student, Sister Aloysius (Streep), the school's principal, gets it in her head that Flynn is molesting him. She has no evidence, only her own pride and certainty. Nonetheless, she goes to great lengths to get Flynn removed from the parish. This all occurs because Sister James (Adams) sees Flynn put a t-shirt in the boy's locker. Paranoia sets in fast and digs in deep, and the audience is left forced to make a choice. Is Flynn guilty or innocent? It could honestly go either way, and according to director John Patrick Shanley, the only other person who knew the truth was Hoffman himself, God rest him.
Doubt is a brilliantly written lesson in human frailty, not physically but emotionally. Every actor performs spectacularly and I like how the film doesn't commit to either side. It effectively makes every character ambiguous, neither a hero or a villain. You could watch this film differently every time, and that's the very definition of smart filmmaking.