Doubt [Blu-ray]  [US Import]
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Everyone will have their own opinion in the end, but the negative reviews of this film to date appear particularly misleading (incidentally one of them actually contains spoilers--shouldn't Amazon.co.uk filter these out?), and I feel the need to clarify a few things.
You see, this is NOT a courtroom drama or a John Grisham action thriller. Some of the reviewers seem to have expected this to be the case, since the story revolves around whether a priest is guilty of a heinous crime. But what this film is actually about is what you learn in the process of his persecution by the mother superior.
In "Doubt", people reveal just how far they are willing to go in pursuit of a cause they believe in. Love of God is put to test as human, almost primal urges rear their head. Parents are shown to be willing to make unspeakable compromises. And a young and naive nun learns that little is certain, except eternal doubt.
The setting of the film at a Catholic school in a largely Irish/American Catholic neighbourhood of the Bronx in 1964 - a year after the deaths of JFK and Pope John XXXIII and the convocation of the second Vatican Council, which boldly sought a rapprochement of the Catholic church with the modern world - emphasises the central conflict of the film between:- (A) The old certainties of the past, as embodied by Meryl Streep's arch-traditionalist, stern, foreboding, ball-point pen hating nun. (B) The ever-increasing uncertainties of the present represented by Patrick Seymour Hoffman's modernist, charming and openly liberal parish priest.
The story is ostensibly a sort of 'whodunnit'? (or rather 'did-he-do-it'?) in regards to allegations of innappropriate relations with children but on a deeper level probes further into the nature of faith in an ever-changing and increasingly secularised world. Is Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character a sexual predator or merely a misunderstood victim? is Meryl Streep's character an overzealous gossip or true believer? there is indeed doubt. The film does not underestimate the intelligence of the audience and allows for several interpretations. Thought-provoking, engrossing and well-acted by a strong cast. A film that is well worth a watch.
There is such subtlety in how Fr Flynn interacts with the boys. He is positive and encouraging, warm and snarky. Yet the boys all flinch when he thrusts his long fingernails at them. Well all except Donald Miller, the boy under observation. Fr Flynn wants to innovate, Frosty the snowman, have a camping trip. Warning bells!!! Not Frosty, but the camping trip, an ideal occasion of total access to the boys.
Donald's mum hoped that the priest was kind to her son, regardless of his motivation. That sounded cold, until she said his life was in danger if he had to return to his last school or his father thought his son's "personality" had been discovered. The cruelty in that boy's life was barely sketched, but that was a theme that played whenever Sr Aloysius had dealings with children. The children were either a problem that needed correction and they should shut up. The other teachers and nuns were far warmer.
Cue Fr Flynn cuddling Donald in the corridor... he must have felt so secure to do that, either because he was innocent, or because he was in brazenly open and despite confessing to terrible sin "would never feel true regret" in Sr Aloysius' damning phrase.
I am puzzled about why Sr James hid the most telling evidence (the undershirt returned by the priest direct into Donald's locker) - was it inexperience, that she could not infer how the shirt was in his possession?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Doubt is a slow-burner, methodical, thoughtful and I absolutely loved it. The central partnerships of Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour-Hoffman and Amy Adams are truly sublime with... Read morePublished 3 months ago by John Vine
This is a triumph on all levels. It's difficult to say too much without spoilers so I will just say this: a very intense film, Amy Adams as the innocent youngster, that sees the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ozymandias
A terrific film with two great actors. Meryl Streep almost pantomime villain like in her quest to oust the much liked Philip Seymour Hoffman from a Catholic School. Read morePublished 6 months ago by smudge1973