Movie Review: Doubt (2008)

Rating: 5 / 5

Doubt (2008) is a movie adapted from a prize winning play of the same name written and directed by John Patrick Shanley.

As the movie begins with a sermon by Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) along the lines of doubt being a unifier 'Doubt can be a bond as powerful as certainty', the characters are all in place. Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) is the rigid disciplinarian principal of the Catholic school, Father Flynn is the parish priest and Sister James (Amy Adams) is the naive, eager to please and enthusiastic history teacher.

When Sr. James goes to Sr. Aloysius with concerns regarding Father Flynn and the new (and only) black student in the school, she watches with horror as the crusading spirit of Sr. Aloysius, determined to prove Father Flynn's guilt in abusing the boy, quickly converts matters into a violent two-way power struggle. The movie is talky, dealing with matters of religion, racism, sexuality, authority, and most of the action consists of ambiguous confrontations between the principals - is Sr. Aloysius a true crusader in a male-dominated heirarchy or on a witch-hunt against a liberal priest? Is Father Flynn protecting a disadvantaged student or truly guilty?

Both Hoffman and Streep are needless to say highly effective and entertaining in their roles, the final scene between the two truly a pleasure to watch in terms of the duality of emotions shown - excepting a moment where Streep does a maniacal hand-flapping, cross-waving imitation of that evil character in the Grimm fairy tales. Oh, well. Mention must be made of Adams' rendition of the meek school teacher finally pushed to the boundaries of her control.

But, while the director does his best to give us effective framing and beautiful set pieces, I thought his cinematic real world complete with wind-swept autumn leaves, flying feathers and defective light bulbs impinged too much on what is a character based story of the cloistered environment that the priests and nuns live in. Note to self, watch it in the theatre sometime to see if the experience will be more rewarding than the movie.

Highly recommended.

11 comments:

Mama - Mia said...

it sounded VERY complicated in the review, but i am guessing watching it should clarify my doubts! (no pun intended!)

will try andw atchj it sometime soon!

cheers!

abha

avdi said...

Hoffman, I feel, is a true actor. I was captivated by Capote. Streep is totally effortless. But that can sometimes become a curse, when people look at you and expect you to deliver.

I think I can only hope for it to appear on TV, not much likelihood of such a movie being played in a cinema :(

eye-in-sty-in said...

Both Streep and Hoffman are very powerful actors. Talkative you say? Hmmmm. Not for me at this time. I am more in the mood for slapstick and action movies at the moment...

couchpapaya said...

abha - oops sorry i wasnt clearer, wrote in a hurry !!

avdi - yeah, he's just amazing isnt he. there's capote and then if the sleazy reporter in red dragon, he just gets into the skin so well. i love streep, as well ... good luck, hope u can find it .....

EISI - the movies released this mnth are terrible, hope u find something to watch!!

Angel's Flight said...

Ooh I was wondering what it was all bout.....the trailers sure seemed interesting.....

Smita said...

To be frank, haven't read the review but tell me why was my blog roll not updated that u wrote a post? Was this one written few weeks back????

And girl be more regular na....

Avionic Spanker said...

Nice job. Wheres the papaya rating though? :)

couchpapaya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
couchpapaya said...

angel - yeah, i went because of the trailers .... and since it's so hard for me to miss any movie with streep ... even watched mamma mia and boy was it fun :D

smita, spanker - (good to see u back spanker) thx for the comments, now next step is to get u guys to actually read the darn posts :)

Avionic Spanker said...

Not fair couchpapaya! I did read the review and checked out the content on wikipedia as well.

I meant those images of papayas .. where are the 5 papayas? :-)

couchpapaya said...

spanker - heh my mistake! didnt think anyone wld miss those. i gave them up many reviews ago .... do u know how boring it is to add 5 images to blogger or even copy-paste html from one post to the other :)

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