Doubt Reviewby Wick (wick AT wikpik DOT com)
January 16th, 2009
Great - 4 on a scale of 5 beams.
Devilishly provocative, this Catholic school mystery exploits the profound doubts created by the scourge of priestly pedophilia. As much as anything, the movie plays as an elegy for what we've lost: the unquestioning trust in adults who are charged with mentoring children.
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep perform at the peak of their powers, he as the good guy priest about whom doubts are sown, she as the hectoring nun who sees good in no one. His three sermons are riveting soliloquies; her wiggly cheekbones masterfully convey her frequent disapproval. Worthy dramatic rivals, each instills deep doubts in the mind of the viewer.
Catholic school miscreant John Patrick Shanley ably converts his prize- winning play to the silver screen, proving that revenge is best served via the mass media.
On the key question of whether to trust good Father Flynn, the Church's lame response to priestly pedophilia serves as diabolical ruse, forcing the viewer to make a gut decision of Guilty or Admirable. Can't be both. Me, I choose the latter.
As for the choices made by the strong and wise mother of a terribly put-upon boy, her gut clearly steered her in the best direction possible given the harrowing circumstances of her son's life and the unhinged nature of the vague accusations she's asked to accept. No doubt.
The movie's one undoubted truth is the invaluable role played in the lives of children by strong coaches, teachers and clergy. That bad apple priests damaged this for generations of children compounds the crimes they committed against their immediate charges.
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