Doubt (John Patrick Shanley – 2010) A-

I waited some days before finally writing this post down because I was not sure how I felt about this movie soon after watching it. Now, I think I would like to see it again. That is exactly why Doubt is so powerful. I thought I knew what happened or did not happen soon after meeting the primary characters. The first time I saw Sister Aloysius I immediately disliked her. She is intolerant, harsh and strict. She is the stuff of Catholic school boys’ (and girls’) nightmares. I was sure that her doubts about Father Flynn were incorrect. She just dislikes him and casts him in a negative light no matter what the evidence might prove. Of course she would doubt the progressive non-conformist priest who likes “secular music”, uses a “ballpoint pen” and takes “three sugars” in his tea. Sister Aloysius cannot stand what Father Flynn represents: modernity, change and doubt. All that being said, is she wrong about him and his relationship with a young student named Donald Miller? What about his past? Is he hiding anything? I am sure he is but not necessarily what the nun is suggesting.

As its title suggests, Doubt is not so black and white and by the end of the film I am just not so sure Sister Aloysius was so wrong about Father Flynn. I really am not giving anything away here, because there are many possibilities as to why the priest acted the ways he did, including the explanations he gave during his several fascinating verbal duels with the nun. Doubt is very engrossing and everyone in it delivers a fantastic performance, from the superb Meryl Streep as Aloysius to Amy Adams as a junior nun (is that a proper term?) who wants to do the right thing but seems just unsure what that is. Viola Davis has a small role here as Donald’s mom and she delivers one amazing performance where she says so much without spelling everything out for us.

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