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Doubt 2009

In 1964 at St Nicholas school Sister Aloysius believes in fear and discipline. Father Flynn is trying to ease things, but when Sister James shares her suspicion with Aloysius that Flynn is paying too much attention to a new black pupil, she sets off a battle of wills as she goes on a crusade to learn to get rid of the Father.

Starring:
Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Runtime:
1 hour, 39 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director John Patrick Shanley
Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Supporting actors Amy Adams, Viola Davis, Lloyd Clay Brown, Joseph Foster, Bridget Megan Clark, Lydia Jordan, Evan Lewis, Paulie Litt
Studio Studiocanal
BBFC rating Suitable for 15 years and over
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The script and acting is amazing, I felt no difficulty in immersing myself in the reality of the school. I was taught in an Irish convent school in 70s, where the boys and girls were seperately educated, so the priests had very little contact with girls the way things were organised in our town.

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?
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Format: DVD
John Patrick Stanley's film adaptation of his own Pulitzer Prize and Tony award winning play 'Doubt: a Parable' unfortunately did not come up with any Oscars Sunday night but still deserves accolades for it's multi-layered plot, excellent performances and thought-provoking denouement.

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.
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Format: DVD
I rarely review films and books, especially those I enjoyed, as it is usually a very personal experience, but when to my amazement I found such mixed reviews for what in my opinion is a masterpiece, I felt the need to speak out.

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.
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'Doubt' was an interesting movie, with excellent central performances from Streep and Hoffman, but ultimately unsatisfying as there was no resolution, no clarifyication and, dare I say, no point?

The story centre's on a Catholic school in the 1960's, where Seymore-Hoffman is the local Priest and Street is Head Nun and also Principle. Events unfold slowly (and confusingly) and doubt is cast on the relationship between the Priest and one of the alter-boys, a withdrawn black child (in an all white school). Amy Adams plays a catalist for the doubt, by being the one to provide 'evidence' to Streep which starts the clash between the two main leads.

The viewer is never any the wiser than the characters and the peachy sermons made throughout are as aimed at us, as at the characters - almost sub-messages about the sins of gossiping and casting doubt on one's neighbour. But this is what makes the film so frustrating and ultimately unsatisfacing, because the viewer should know more than the characters and be able to feel one way or the other, either anger towards the Priest for his actions or anger towards to the Nun for her unnecessary intervention. However, the producers clearly decided that the viewers were to be left to their own decisions and own 'doubt'.

Streep and Hoffman are excellent as is Amy Adams (although I struggle to find Hoffman likeable or engaging, in this or any other film) and the movie did recieve five Oscar nominations but - but! - something was missing; aside a few amazing central scene's between Streep and Hoffman, at only 1 hour 35 mins, this movie would probably make a much better stage play, where there can be allowances for untold or unseen story, but on the big screen I expect to see the whole picture (JFK this ain't). Three stars only.
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