Set in 1964 at a Catholic church in the Bronx, New York, the movie Doubt (2008) is a powerful statement of what harm can occur even when seeking to do good. In one of the opening lines, the message of the movie was proclaimed, “in the pursuit of wrong doing, one steps away from God.” The movie is based on a stageplay, Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley. Written and directed by Shanley and produced by Scott Rudin, the film stars Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis.
Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) is the principal of the school attached to the church and rules the school with an iron hand. Inside her disciplinarian self, she has a heart for the children. However she is unhappy with the assistant pastor,Father Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who is very good and friendly with the children especially with Donald Miller, the school’s first Afro-American boy and an altar boy. Sister Aloysius suspects that Father Flynn is behaving inappropriately with the boy. Sister James (Amy Adams), a young and naive teacher, feeds her with observations which seems to support her suspicions.
Sister Aloysius then launches into a campaign to discredit Father Flynn. The actresses and actors gave such a superb performance that there were doubts all around. Is Father Flynn sexually abusing the altar boy, Donald Miller? There are lots of circumstantial evidence but Father Flynn denied the accusation. How far will Sister Aloysius go to confirm her suspicions. When does suspicions become facts?
While paced as a who-done-it thriller, this non-violent drama plays out our inner demons of suspicion of others, and a tendency for us to pre-judge others. For many of us, the other person is guilty unless proven otherwise.
This is a great movie with a good religious theme and excellent actresses and actors. Easily one of the better and must-watch film of 2008.
“in the pursuit of wrong doing, one steps away from God.”
PS I love the way Father Flynn preaches his sermons. That itself is a lesson in homiletics.