Saturday, December 27, 2008

doubt


Hubby, Offsprings #1&2 and I drove to Portland yesterday. The only challenge was getting out of our neighborhood because the streets were thick with slush. Once we hit the more heavily traveled roads we were fine.

In the evening we saw Doubt, a movie about a nun who confronts a priest suspected of an improper relationship with a young boy in their parish and school. You've probably all seen the trailers. Meryl Streep plays the accuser, Sister Aloysius, a strict disciplinarian (yet definitely not a one-dimensional character). Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the accused Father Flynn, a friendly priest who is trying to help modernize the church. Amy Adams is Sister James, an optimistic and impressionable young teacher who is caught in the middle. Her flip-flopping of opinion on the priest's innocence vs. guilt is representative of the audience's uncertainty.

Of course this doubt is the whole point of the movie, and the best advice I can give you on seeing the film (not that you need my advice) is to avoid getting caught up in the "did he or didn't he" question. Instead consider the bigger themes. There is obviously the tension between doubt and certainty (and Fr. Flynn's sermon on doubt at the film's beginning contrasts to some degree with the type of doubt with which Sr. Aloysius is wrestling at the end of the film). There is also the whole appearance vs. reality question (not only with Hoffman's character but more subtly with Streep's character.)

And there is the theme of the ambigious nature of morality. I won't do a plot spoiler, but this is highlighted in how the boy's mother handles the accusation. (And here I'll mention that Viola Davis does a wonderful job playing the role of Mrs. Miller. Her anguish as a mother with limited options for her son is gut-wrenching.)

Of particular interest to me was the handling of the topic of 1960's sexism -- part of the priest's anger at the nun's accusation is that she had the audacity to step out of her 'place' and make the charge at all.

Then there's the whole tradition vs. modernization of the church angle.

Anywhoo, there is a LOT to ponder in the movie and a LOT to like about it. In short, go see it!

9 comments:

Purple said...

I have seen the trailers etc and want to see this movie. Appreciate your take on it. Thanks.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Michael really wants to see this and your review confirms that it will be thought provoking. Thank you for not spoiling the plot. I'll keep your advice in mind while watching it.

mompriest said...

I'm on vacation some of next week...maybe I'll take myself to a movie....

Rev SS said...

yep, I'm planning to see it to. Got to see Color Purple at the Paramount today. It is EXCELLENT

Barbara B. said...

Rev SS, We're seeing Color Purple next week! :)

Processing Counselor said...

You wrote this up so well! I couldn't agree any more or said it better (we saw it on Christmas day and also saw the play.) Loved it, but left us thinking and still thinking.
Did you love the sermon about gossip and the image of the feathers flying through the air?
PS CT Muffin, may have caught it on an off day, but the chicken salad tasted strange. I'll try it again because I like the ambience.

Barbara B. said...

PC, Thanks! Yes, I loved the visual image of all those feathers...
I'd really like to see the play -- I will have to keep an eye open for it in the area.

ps Hope CT Muffin is better on the second attempt. :)

Presbyterian Gal said...

This is definitely on my list. I always enjoy watching Meryl's work. She does a fair job in the career she stole from me (Ha Ha).

We're going to do "The Day the Earth Stood Still" today.

Jennifer said...

Even more, having read your review, I look forward to seeing this film later this week.
Thanks, Barbara!