Saturday, December 27, 2008
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!