Newest Review: ... stiffly up-right at their quiet meals with Sister Aloysius coldly observing all of them. The only nun to ever really have a voice within Si... more
Hoffman, half deviant?
Member Name: thedevilinme
Date: 04/02/12, updated on 05/02/12 (59 review reads)
Advantages: Better than it looks
Disadvantages: No Oscars
Star - Meryl Streep & Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Run Time - 104 minutes
Awards - 5 Oscar nominations
Certificate - 15
Country - USA
Genre - Drama
The Catholic Church and pedophilia go together like George Bush and cheap foreign oil, a seedy hidden relationship that seem to hold together on perversion and denial of guilt in equal measures. Whether gay men and sexual deviants (they are often different people) flock to the priesthood to escape feelings for other men and children so to seek redemption, or allowed to develop those feelings in the sanctuary of the church, is open for debate but either way the Catholic Church is a bee's nest of pedophiles. The evidence is irrefutable, 7000 cases plus currently filed against the Vatican. It's believed that one-in-ten American priests are now HIV positive because of the churches secret tolerance for homosexuality. The Bush regime closed ranks and denied their wars were about oil so to perpetuate more conflicts. The Pope and his elder's suppressed widespread abuse in the ranks which allowed hundreds of priest to carry on offending, the justification for both that God never said they couldn't do what they did so it must be ok, right? The God defense that it was temptation forced upon the priest and the devil was tempting them to sin is the standard for both organized religion and American presidents.
The 'Doubt' in question is all about that very same religious deviancy, the trust a Mother Superior (Meryl Streep) has for her priest (Phillip Seymour-Hoffman) and what to do about him if he is abusing children in their church school, a novice nun (Amy Adams) the conflicted conscious of the movie. It's a rapid reuniting for Streep and Adams after their great chemistry in Julie & Julia and poor old Seymour Hoffman yet again typecast in a seedy role.
The film is based on the Pullitzer Prize winning stage play of the same name and written and directed by the same man, John Patrick Shanley, his first film since Joe Versus the Volcano, the Tom Hanks vehicle, probably a good time to stop making films after that one. As I say, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, has yet again been cast as a suspected pedophile, his third film in that role that I can recall and there may be more. He just looks like what we and Hollywood think a pedophile would look like and so cast in those foaming at the mouth roles. What he made of the phone call from Shanley to play this role God only knows, if you excuse the pun.
Shanley based the play on his experiences in a Bronx Catholic school in the 1960s, why he allows the devastating and brave twist that makes this movie really work, writing himself into the play as a young boy to front up as the witness, a script that sticks up for all races and genders though this powerful film that America seemed to enjoy abusing all through the 1060s.
Meryl Streep ... Sister Aloysius Beauvier
Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Father Brendan Flynn
Amy Adams ... Sister James
Viola Davis ... Mrs. Miller
Frank Shanley ....Kevin
Joseph Foster as Donald Miller
Alice Drummond ... Sister Veronica
Audrie Neenan ... Sister Raymond
Susan Blommaert ... Mrs. Carson
Father Brendan Flynn: Even if you feel certainty, it is an emotion not a fact.
Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is having doubts, expressed in his sermon to his faithful flock, Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), the Bronx catholic schools iron fist Mother Superior, picking up on that. But what is his doubt about?
It becomes clear to Sister Beauvier when she finds out that Flynn has been spending more and more time with the schools first black student, an 11-year old alter boy named Donald Miller (Joseph Foster), a fish very much out of water and so grateful for the Priests guidance and time.
Sister James (Amy Adams), who teaches him history, is assigned by the Mother Superior to keep an eye on both of them, and when her suspicions are confirmed when Sister James reports a suspicious act she moves on Flynn, confronting him in her office after calling in Donald's mum (Viola Davies) in earlier. But it's Flynn's bombastic denial and the surprising conversation the Mother Superior has with Mrs. Miller when they walk together that introduces doubt into her life too, which means she could be wrong, something Sister Aloysius Beauvier rarely has and does.
I really enjoyed this. I don't know what I was expecting, considering the obvious narrative to proceedings, but the fact it was a Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway play I haven't seen suggests it would be the better option to rent it. The dialogue that explores those moral issues of religion and manipulation are strong and the powerplay between Hoffman and Streep a real pleasure to behold, Streep the finest female actress of my generation, two great actors going at it nose-to-nose. It's hard to see how the Academy can ignore her startling impression of Margaret Thatcher now after not giving her the golden statue for this. Hoffman, as I said, just looks and sounds the part in his flowing priestly robes and ambiguous enough throughout the play to not reveal to us his true feelings and suggested actions towards the boy. The peripheral race issue is just that in the film and because of the potency of the decision the little boy's mum makes to keep him at the school, Viola Davies also earned an Oscar nomination, but the excellent black actress in the film for barely ten minutes. Sometimes the writer's braveness of the message makes the performance.
You are kept guessing throughout and the actors enjoy the moral tussle on screen, an involving soundtrack the cement to keep you with the emotion of the piece. For its $20 million budget it only did $29 million back, this type of film a little too smart and involving for dim American audiences in the flyover states. You have to hit those markets hard to for an intelligent film to make any money back there. Saying the church is full of pedophiles is perhaps not the best way though. This is a proper actor's movie guys, dog number four at Milton Keynes with its tongue hanging out chasing Oscars...
The Guardian - "Doubt looks like some sort of upscale horror film, complete with crows and swirling leaves like The Omen. It's actually a terminally muddled piece of star-studded Oscar-bait".
The Times -"A cat-and-mouse game of power and posture, played out by two of the finest actors of the moment".
The NY Times -"An attention-getting bit of drama built on remarkable performances.
Movie News -"Not a cinematic powerhouse, but a good conversation starter"
Imdb.com - 7.6/10.0 (50,967 votes)
Metacritic.com - 68% critics approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 78% critics approval rating
Radio Times Film Year Book - 3/4
Leonardo Maltin Film Year Book -3/4
Rental - 99p per night@Blockbuster
Summary: Great acting duel to the death