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Doubt (I) (2008)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Mystery  |  25 December 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 95,063 users   Metascore: 68/100
Reviews: 313 user | 292 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

A Catholic school principal questions a priest's ambiguous relationship with a troubled young student.


(screenplay), (play)
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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 23 wins & 79 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sister Veronica
Audrie Neenan ...
Sister Raymond
Mrs. Carson
Christine Hurley
Warren Hurley
Jimmy Hurley
Joseph Foster ...
Donald Miller (as Joseph Foster II)
William London
Haklar Dezso ...
Zither Player
Frank Shanley ...
Robert Ridgell ...


It's 1964, St. Nicholas in the Bronx. A charismatic priest, Father Flynn, is trying to upend the school's strict customs, which have long been fiercely guarded by Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the iron-gloved Principal who believes in the power of fear-based discipline. The winds of political change are sweeping through the community, and indeed, the school has just accepted its first black student, Donald Miller. But when Sister James, a hopeful innocent, shares with Sister Aloysius her guilt-inducing suspicion that Father Flynn is paying too much personal attention to Donald, Sister Aloysius sets off on a personal crusade to unearth the truth and to expunge Flynn from the school. Now, without a shard of proof besides her moral certainty, Sister Aloysius locks into a battle of wills with Father Flynn which threatens to tear apart the community with irrevocable consequences. Written by Miramax Films

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

school | priest | student | nun | boy | See All (248) »


There is no evidence. There are no witnesses. But for one, there is no doubt.


Drama | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 December 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La duda  »

Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$507,226 (USA) (12 December 2008)


$33,422,556 (USA) (3 April 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The street scenes of the Church and School, were actually shot in the Bronx, NY, where author John Patrick Shanley grew up, and was in front of St. Anthony's Church and School, a school that Shanley is reported to have attended. The Catholic School closed permanently in June of 2013. See more »


During the final conflict between Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn, the camera pans down and to the left, and the boom microphone appears briefly. See more »


[first lines]
Christine Hurley: Jimmy? Come on! You're serving today.
See more »


Referenced in The Big Bang Theory: The Killer Robot Instability (2009) See more »


Is It Me?
Written by Joe Lervold, Adryan Russ
Performed by Joe Lervold (as Joel Evans)
Courtesy of Cinemasters
By arrangement with MS-Pro
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

American Film's heavyweight acting champs square off.
29 December 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There are no better actors working in American film today than Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Streep has been on top for some time now and Hoffman has an unmatched resume of fine performances over the past five years. Pairing off as adversaries in John Patrick Shanley's stage play brought to screen they parry and prod throughout with each landing hay makers along the way.

Change is in the wind in 1964 for both the world and the Catholic Church (Second Vatican Council) as the country moves from conservatism to liberal thought. Sister Aloysius (Streep)is the principal of an inner city Catholic school who rules with an iron fist. Lamenting the loss of tradition (she thinks Frosty the Snowman is a song about worshiping false idols) she crosses swords with the popular and laid back Father Flynn who takes a more liberal view seeing the need to keep up with the times. His progressive ways gnaw at Sister Aloysius and she is soon suspecting Father Flynn of inappropriate relationship with altar boys even though she is without concrete proof.

The scenes between Streep and Hoffman are riveting from start to finish. Both attempt at first to be civil with each other but eventually they end up at each others throat bullying and threatening. It is a titanic emotional struggle that makes for a gripping drama flawlessly acted. I'm no big fan of Streep, finding the adopted accents she employs in some of her films false and hollow, but as the self righteous Nunzilla her pugnacious style and inflection rates with her Sophie's Choice performance. Hoffman has his work cut out for him to keep up with the formidable legend but he holds his own with equal footing.

In supporting roles Amy Adams is very effective as the unintended go between Sister James. Seized with doubt she like the audience mirrors our own misgivings as conflicted objective observers. Viola Davis as a troubled boy's mother has one lengthy powerful and painful scene that begins to tie loose ends together but offers no easy solution.

Writer director John Patrick Shanley does an admirable job in keeping the plot nebulous with ambivalent scenes and peripheral characters that purposefully enhance the suspense. Scenes are tightly edited with sparse but effective dialog giving the film its steady pace. Other than some jarring oblique angle shots the camera compositions and set design provide a somber ambiance for the drama and an arena for the perfectly measured performances by two masters of the craft in this fight to the finish that remains absorbing from beginning to end.

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