It’s a little weird watching Doubt only a few days after watching The Boat That Rocked, especially seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman transform from a crude and rude radio jock, into a contemporary Catholic priest. But Hoffman is a consummate professional and knows how to nail any given role, and playing along side Meryl Streep only seems to add to his ability to mesmerise the audience with his performance,
I went into Doubt thinking I knew a little about the film, it was an anti-Catholic film about a paedophile Priest who gets challenged by the head nun. The only reason I was watching was because the trailer made it look so damn watchable, despite it’s implied content.
Of course, as it turns out, Doubt is not about a paedophile Priest, rather it’s about perception, and more importantly, doubt.
Right at the beginning of the film, we see Hoffman’s character, Father Flynn preaching a very contemporary sermon, not the stuffy clichéd hack job you would expect. Then at the end, as he leaves to get out of his robes, a bird, possibly a dove, ascends from where he was preaching and settles in the roof. This has some serious spiritual connotations, and firmly planted a seed ion my mind that Flynn was indeed a righteous man.
But with such a finely crafted movie about doubt, all would never be, as it seems. Sister Beauvier (Streep) is concerned about Flynn’s sermon, she thinks he has detected her own crises of faith and is preaching directly to her. Her steadfast exterior and prideful existence won’t stand for the perceived intrusion into her spiritual life, and so she sets out to see if there is any way she can discredit Flynn, enlisting the help of a young, impressionable nun (played by Amy Admas) sewing a very strong seed of doubt in her mind that cloud her judgemt when it comes to Father Flynn.
So the battle lines are drawn, and the film kicks into high gear, with two powerhouse actors working off each other creating a dynamic tension so real you can almost physically feel it.
The movie is full of visual suggestions, like the light bulb in Sister Beauvier’s office, that lead you to think one way, before the story line take a sudden turn, leading you to think another way. In the end, the film ends in such a way that no matter how much you dissect the movie, you can’t decide one way or the other, who was right and who was wrong, without having at least a trace element of doubt in your mind.
A brilliantly written and acted story detailing the complexities of life.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read
Rating: [M] Suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over.
Released on: July 1st, 2009
Stars: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis
Length (Minutes): 100
Media Format: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Supported Audio: Dolby Digital Surround 5.1
Director: Shanley, John Patrick
Studio: Walt Disney Studios