Friday, December 12, 2008
"What do you do when you're not sure?" asked Father Flynn in his sermon at the beginning of a gripping drama "Doubt" (USA 2008, 104 min.). That sets the tone for the rest of the film. Based on his award winning play, John Patrick Shanley transforms the psychological battle about truth and doubt into the big screen.
Set in 1964 at a Catholic school in the Bronx, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) tries to embrace the changing world, while the stone faced school principle Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) fiercely opposes him. After Sister Aloysius notices the special attention from Father Flynn to a black alter boy from Sister James's class, she believes that Father Flynn is a predator, and she determines to uncover the truth about him.
It is quite obvious that the film deliberately puts the audience's mind into doubt about the truth just as its characters—Did he or didn't he? That burning question lasts the entire film, and perhaps even beyond. It is absolutely fascinating to witness the mind battle among these characters, especially the buildup of tension between Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn.
Sister Aloysius and Sister James display completely opposite personalities—Sister Aloysius is disciplined, determined, cold, and fearful; Sister James is innocent, good hearted, uncertain, and amiable. However, the doubt in Father Flynn unites them together. The effort to eliminate the doubt sometimes even creates more doubt.
Despite the engaging story development and the terrific ensemble performance, I feel a little dissatisfied toward the end of the film. It doesn't quite match up the pace and suspensive effect during the most part of the film. That's my own doubt about the film.
"What do you do when you're not sure?" Appreantly a lot.
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