Sunday, 31 January 2010

Film Review: DOUBT (2008)

Director: John Patrick Shanley
Running time: 104 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 15

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 31st January 2010.


First of all, I am not a Catholic and so I never went to a Catholic school. My only knowledge of such institutions has been gleaned from films, TV and news reports. I mention this so you know that I’m looking at this film with the eyes of an outsider. The film is based on a play written by the director and is set in a Catholic school run by nuns in The Bronx in 1964.

The priest, Father Brendan Flynn is a forward thinking man who wants to update the teaching practices at the school. Sister Aloysius Beauvier is the principal and is somewhat resistant to his proposals. Another teacher, Sister James, likes Father Flynn’s ideas, but is subordinate to Sister Aloysius. Things come to a head when the only black child in the school is singled out for special attention by Father Flynn. One day the boy is called to the Father’s office from Sister James’s class and when he returns the acts a little strangely. Sister Aloysius takes this as a sign that there has been something inappropriate between the two. She accuses Father Flynn and he explains that the boy had been caught drinking communion wine. The Sister is not satisfied with this explanation and goes out of her way to prove otherwise. I’ll leave it there as I’ve given enough away already!

First of all, great performances from all of the leading cast. Special mentions must, without doubt, go to, Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius Beauvier, Philip Seymour Hoffman as the charismatic Father Brendan Flynn and Amy Adams as Sister James, all put in tremendous performances. A really well made film that kept me engaged all the way through, although I felt it did get a little bit bogged down towards the end.

I’ll admit to having been a bit of a fan of the work of Philip Seymour Hoffman since I first saw him in Magnolia way back in 1999. The combination with Meryl Streep worked perfectly in this context. Over all, a well directed and very enthralling drama with some truly excellent performances, recommended.

My score: 8.1/10

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