Friday, May 16, 2014

Review: Doubt

                                        A Tour-De-Force In Ensemble Acting, No 'Doubt'

                           Some who look at the plot of Doubt might think it is another story about sex abuse in the Catholic church. But surprisingly, it is a lot more than that. Doubt is a lot more of a morality tale about our doubts as human beings that just uses alleged sex abuse as the basis of the plot and is a brilliant morality tale at that.
                       Doubt is set in the 60's in a Bronx Catholic school where a priest named Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is accused of having inappropriate relations with a black student by the school principal Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep) after a younger nun named Sister James (Amy Adams) observes the close relationship between Flynn and the student.

                        What I Liked About It:
                      First off, I liked how the film is not just an ensemble piece, but it also works as a character study and a morality tale. The film mostly serves as a character study for Sister Aloysius and how she targets this beloved priest only by suspicion and instinct. Also, it works as a morality tale because it mostly plays on the themes of doubt and religion. It asks us whether or not the pursuit of the truth brings us further away from God once we try to figure out what we think the truth might be and possibly not what it exactly is. When you watch the film, you even notice how after Father Flynn gives his sermon about doubt, Aloysius doesn't seem to have much doubt at first. Another great thing about the film was how it doesn't exactly have a hero or villain. Every character is a regular human being that has admirable qualities, yet some less redeemable qualities as well.

                     I also really liked the acting in the film as well. Meryl Streep brings in her A-game as always as she plays the principal who rules her Catholic school with an iron fist and has such a commanding screen presence. Streep really makes the audience realize why some of the main characters are in such fear of her and sometimes does it by just giving a look. Amy Adams also excels as Sister James, who is the film's rather quiet moral center caught in the middle of the whole scandal and is in a little over her head. The late great Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant as Father Flynn, the beloved priest whose likability who at times makes you wonder whether Sister Aloysius is targeting him out of jealousy because he is so well-liked and she is so detested. Another actress who really shines is Ms. Viola Davis. She has only a limited amount of screen time, but she really makes the most of it as the mother of the allegedly abused child whose only focus is getting her son through school. So, all the actors bring in their A-game and it is no surprise they all got Oscar nominations for their respective performances.

                    What I Didn't Like About It:

                   Overall, Doubt is a brilliant ensemble piece that works as a questioning morality tale as well and as a film without a protagonist or antagonist. I would highly recommend this for the brilliant acting from the all-star cast and just because it is an astonishing work of art that manages to make you think. It might make you look into your own personal doubts because that is what the film is about.

Grade: A

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