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
"Doubt" dares to explore one of the most compelling issues of recent years, and to do so with a completely unmanipulative perspective with no sermonizing.
The linear narrative style is refreshing, with no flashbacks and flash forwards, and no contamination of the story (set in the early 1960s) with the hindsight of recent events. It is relentless. We see the events of those days without any cinematic deus ex machina. We are not privileged to any all-showing exposition of critical events. We have only the souls of the principles as expressed in their dialog and in their faces.
With the mighty acting duo of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep, and a more than able supporting cast and superb direction, "Doubt" has dramatic fireworks without cheap gimmicks.
The final 30 seconds puts a fitting cap on the message. The effect is devastating.
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