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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Doubt Movie Review - Streep Hoffman Adams

Doubt is one of the best films I've seen in a long time. I was sorry it took me a long time to get around to watching it.

The acting is some of the best I've ever seen.  Streep plays a stern catholic school nun, sister Aloysius. She is the principal who rules with seething quiet and decisiveness.  Streep plays the character perfectly. You can sense the ice water in her veins but not to the point where Aloysius is simply some stereotype, dogmatic nun. There is also a deep compassionate side that Streep lets drip out in tiny, subtle amounts throughout the film giving the character a deep complexity.

Amy Adams, always terrific (see my Junebug review), plays a young, inexperienced nun and teacher. She doesn't get out often and is a bit naive. She has the will to do the right thing but without making life too complicated.  She is perhaps the first nun I've seen where I wanted to get up of the couch and make out with the television screen.

I don't know why I said that and, yes, I'm aware I'm going to hell.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Synechdouche NY), plays Father Flynn. He runs the school. He's Aloysious' boss. He is also a reformer. He wants to engage the children and their families in a positive way. He wants them to see the Catholic Church as a warm and welcome part of the family.

I think Flynn reminds me of teachers I so loved when I was growing up. Flynn is a perfectly written character. Hoffman makes this character immensely likable (even if the Bronx accent doesn't always hold up).  Great juxtaposition to the severe no-nonsense Aloysius.

Just as the cold Aloysius has a deep human side, the opposite could be brewing in Flynn. Somewhere in the depths of Flynn's character may, or may not, lie a pedophile.  The film does a nice job of not truly revealing this nor over dramatizing these suspicions. This film is not a CSI episode. Doubt is truly a study of, well, doubt. It preaches, no pun indented, the whole idea of agonizing over the question, "I am I right or am I wrong?" It also suggests that regardless if you are right, or wrong, there are very real consequences.

This film is a study of great cinema. You'll love the scene where Aloysious reveals to the alleged victim's mother (Viola Davis) that her son might have an 'inappropriate relationship' with Father Flynn. Davis is riveting and with more time in the film may have stolen the show from Streep. The writing in this scene (as in the whole movie) is terrific and the course of the dialog, unexpected.

Bottom line, check out this film.


PG 13

104 minutes

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