Doubt is a fascinating movie that takes us into the complicated world of human relationships, interactions, and assumptions. It is set in a Catholic Parish in 1964 and revolves around a young priest, Father Flynn, who is portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, his new ideas, and his relationships with his students and the nuns who teach and live at the parish. When events unfold that raise doubts about Father Flynn’s honesty and behavior, two nuns, Sister James, portrayed by Amy Adams, and Sister Aloysius, portrayed by Meryl Streep, begin to question his actions. Along the way, these two nuns travel down a path of interrogation, lies, and accusations they eventually find difficult to return from.
The feelings, emotions, and other human traits Doubt explores are a large part of what makes it such a powerful movie. When finished watching this film, it is almost impossible not to think about the complexity of human relationships, and the destructive qualities of lies, doubt, and deception, as well as the fragile line we all walk in terms of honesty – both with others and with ourselves. Powerful acting performances by Hoffman, Streep, Adams, and Viola Davis as the mother of one of the students, are also crucial ingredients that make Doubt so extraordinary. All four were nominated for Oscars, along with a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay by John Patrick Shanley. The scenes between Hoffman and Streep are especially dynamic, as their performances, as well as the screenplay, keep you on the edge of your seat. And while the movie keeps you riveted to the screen in its entirety, the ending will probably surprise you, and leave you with a whole new set of questions you will wrestle with long after the credits stop rolling.
Although Doubt did not earn many individual awards for its actors, I would say without hesitation that the ensemble cast performance was easily the best of 2008. And if it had not been for the unstoppable force that was Slumdog Millionaire, it likely would have been a front runner for Best Adapted Screenplay. I encourage everyone to watch Doubt because it is a movie that delves into the human condition in an honest way, exploring the good and bad which can arise along the search for truth.
Rated PG-13 – 104 Minutes