On Friday I went to see Doubt, a film in which John Patrick Shanley brings his Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play to the screen as a gripping story about the quest for truth, the forces of change, and the devastating consequences of blind justice in an age defined by moral conviction.
It’s 1964, St. Nicholas in the Bronx and a vibrant, charismatic priest, Father Flynn (Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman), is trying to upend the schools’ strict customs, which have long been fiercely guarded by Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Academy Award winner Meryl Streep), the iron-gloved Principal who believes in the power of fear and discipline. The winds of political change are sweeping through the community, and indeed, the school has just accepted its first black student, Donald Miller. But when Sister James (Academy Award nominee Amy Adams), a hopeful innocent, shares with Sister Aloysius her guilt-inducing suspicion that Father Flynn is paying too much personal attention to Donald, Sister Aloysius sets off on a personal crusade to unearth the truth and to expunge Flynn from the school. Now, without a shard of proof besides her moral certainty, Sister Aloysius locks into a battle of wills with Father Flynn which threatens to tear apart the community with irrevocable consequence.
This film allows you to do your own thinking and the acting is inspired. The Sunday Star Times awarded it 5 stars and reviewer Barney McDonald wrote, “This is the power of quality cinema. It can take the audience into a world of ideas that are as entertaining as they are thought-provoking. In a society that takes little prompting to judge someone’s actions, sometimes on the flimsiest of evidence, a film that encourages people to find someone innocent until proven guilty is a special thing indeed.”
It is an important film and one that I would highly recommend.