The Catholic church and child abuse. Now there’s something that seems to go so hand in hand that it has come be cliché. Sometimes it seems like every priest has sex with little altar boys. That’s not true of course but it’s always “fun” to see people who preach purity, celibacy and always have judgments ready about us sinners become news headlines about immoral behavior. It’s more fun to see Ted haggard get busted for having homosexual behavior than George Michael getting busted in a public restroom. Doubt focuses on a priest who teaches at St. Nicholas in The Bronx during the 50’s who is accused having abused a black student. The question is: did he really do it?
The accusations come from Sister Aloysius Beauvier. She’s one of those uptight teachers everybody has at least one of during their school period. I had one, she was this person who didn’t even accept it when I started sitting on a different place in the classroom even if that place was free. Really annoying, but it’s also this woman that fought for me behind the screens and made sure I didn’t flunk. Something you don’t see as a student but hear afterwards. It’s things like this that make you see that not everything is always black and white.
Sister Aloysiusis like that. Really conservative, change is not something she welcomes. It’s her job to be frightening to the students so that students won’t misbehave in class and get sent to her. She also is untrustworthy of her male colleagues and asks early in the movie of her female colleagues to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior by these males. When one day charismatic priest, Father Flynn, seems to be a tad too personal with one of the students he is being accused of inappropriate behavior. Even though there is no evidence a battle begins between him and Sister Aloysius. Is he really guilty or is she just overprotective?
Doubt toys around with you until the finale. You’re never sure if he did it or not, even after the movie is over. He can explain everything suspicious but is he telling the truth? You’re tempted to be on his side because he is charismatic and friendly while Aloysius is the Boogeyman. But maybe he is a little too friendly… or is he just being nice? Well I’m not going to spoil which of these to eventually turns out to be right. Or seems to be right, because even after the credits roll there still is some doubt.
With two powerhouse actors facing off on each other in the leading parts Doubt brings fireworks to the screen. Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman are intense trying to proof one’s guilt and innocence. They’re supported by Amy Adams and Viola Davis. The latter having only one scene with lines she appears in as the mother of the (abused?) boy which she delivers so powerful that she was rewarded with an Academy Award-nomination.
Doubt is an interesting movie but due to it’s low-key setting not something that will drag in audiences. That’s a shame because it’s a movie that can generate discussions and that’s never a bad thing. Unless it’s a discussion about how bad a movie was. That won’t be happening with doubt though. No doubt about that.