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Doubt
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Reviews & Ratings for
Doubt More at IMDbPro »

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Index 305 reviews in total 

Fantastic Performance, yet a little bit insufficient

8/10
Author: buggyinthevolvo from Australia
27 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

OK, i know i lot of people will not agree with me but i have to say i was a little bit bored throughout. I think it needed more scenes to make me feel " wow", but that effect lacked a bit. But overall, i thought this was a perfect performance. And there are so many twists in this film that makes it so, well , doubtful. It had a strong plot, strong characters [ AMAZING ACTING], strong message, good execution i have to say. It just needed more of the wow factor, more events explained, and a killer execution. But i have to say, i was impressed by this film and after i watched it i felt a little bit confused but it was definitely worth it.

Two thumbs up.

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Strangely unsatisfying

Author: Kieran Wright from United Kingdom
26 November 2009

On paper this has all the hallmarks of a classic - interesting storyline and amazing cast; however there is something about the whole production which just left me feeling strangely unsatisfied. Perhaps that it ended so suddenly? There is no doubt that the scene in which Hoffmann and Streep share the screen has a real intensity to it, and this I would like to have seen more of. I just feel that it didn't fulfil its potential even though there were some telling moments that resonated, particularly the differences between the priests and the lay people. I really hope that Hoffmann and Streep work together again, as there is a definite chemistry there. Just a shame that you can't really build a whole film around one fantastic scene.

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Poignant, Thought-Provoking, Riveting!!!!

10/10
Author: RaiderJack from San Francisco CA USA
24 November 2009

As with all art forms, the perspective bought into the mix totally defines the impact. This was an excellent screen adaptation of the award-winning play by director, John Patrick Shanley which ultimately resulted in a uniquely liberating, somewhat painful, yet truly thought-provoking viewing experience. Kudos goes to the principal players, Meryl Streep, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis and Joseph Foster, all of whom gave wrenching award-worthy performances.

The story is set in the mid-sixties, not long after the assassination of JFK. A Catholic school in the Bronx accepts its first black student, Donald Miller, beautifully portrayed by Joseph Foster. The priest, wonderfully realized by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, is truly empathetic and realizing what a struggle it must be for the student, keeps an eye on him to make sure he adjusts well to this new and very intricate situation. Because of his attention, one sister, a very effective Amy Adams, initially becomes slightly suspicious of his motives and, unfortunately, reports her suspicions to the principal, an exceedingly pedagogical nun, exquisitely played by Meryl Streep. She, of course, confronts the priest with her suspicions which he vehemently denies and she steadfastly refuses to believe. She even confronts the boy's mother, portrayed by Viola Davis who gives a wrenching performance. The encounter between these two is as taut and revealing as those between the accusing nun and the outraged priest. The overall dialogue is crisp, biting, poignant and positively riveting.

Certain aspects of this whole scenario evoked poignant memories making it rather easy for me to relate to. Moreover, certain revelations the mother made to the nun re the boy's home life raised VERY serious questions. These questions will be at the focal point of any discussions about the play for the simple reason the author wisely neither confirmed nor denied those suspicions which, obviously, was pivotal to the whole theme. Any "doubts" you find yourself faced with while watching this further fuels the profound impact the film makes because in the final analysis, it will be up to the viewer to draw his/her own conclusions - as well it should be. The ending is little short of devastating.

With such a riveting and important play being realized by a positively flawless cast, this could hardly miss. Just eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeescellent. I hiiiiiiiiihgly recommend!!!!

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Great acting but no resolution

8/10
Author: barryrd from Canada
19 November 2009

When I watched Doubt, memories from a Catholic childhood came flooding back of the nuns and priests I knew at a parish church and its school. As in the movie, the school and church were located on one property but the authorities were separate and there was a respectful distance between them. This protocol is followed up to the point where Sister Aloysius feels she has no other alternative but to break through the bounds. Her actions are what any Catholic parent would expect when scandal reared up or was suspected.

Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius brought to mind the old-style nuns who enforced discipline in the Catholic school. The Father Flynns of the time, as portrayed in this movie by Philip Seymour Hoffman, were the nice guys who had a guarded respect for the nuns and one suspects that even they would have trouble measuring up to their standards. The raucous dinner at the rectory with drinking and off-colour banter was in sharp contrast to the regimented dinner routine of the nuns.

The nuns were reminiscent of what I recall: the emphasis on penmanship, the vigilant attention to the children at mass, the eyes in the back of the head trick...all so typical. Sister Aloysius was an embodiment of every sister superior - the demeanour, the glaring, the sarcastic language. Meryl Streep had these down to a tee.

Into this early 1960's school, we are introduced to a potential scandal involving the alleged abuse of a black student. Once the scandal became the focus, we somehow find that the peaceful coexistence between nuns and priests is shattered. Is Father Flynn the victim of a nun's suspicious imagination or is Sister Aloysius the voice of justice with an intuitive knowledge of vice hiding under a liberal priest voicing good intentions. The questions abounded and were sharpened by the characters of Sister James, performed by Amy Adams, and Mrs. Miller, mother of the child, performed by Viola Davis. The acting is first-rate and the atmosphere recaptures a time when Irish and Italian families depended on Catholic nuns to give their children not only a moral foundation but social skills as well. These elements are reinforced by a clever screenplay that captures the details of a particular time and place. I did find one flaw however in the use of the word "boy" by the nuns. This was one thing I never once encountered.

My instinctive sympathy was with Sister Aloysius but there was no real evidence against Father Flynn. The nun was flawed but tried to follow her conscience; however, we are unable to make a full judgement about the priest. The ambivalence of the film leaves the viewer confused particularly at the end. This seems unfair to the audience which wants to know the facts on which to base a judgement. The lack of any resolution leaves a gap in a movie that otherwise shone in many other respects.

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Societal commentary

10/10
Author: Bryan Palencia from United States
15 November 2009

I thought that this film was an exceptional one. While I thought that Hoffman was great; I found Streep to be absolutely masterful. Meryl Streep elevates this movie to a super realm of societal commentary. This movie is interesting because it takes more or less ordinary situations and makes them so abstract that, while I say that it's commentary, it makes no judgments and hopes that the viewer doesn't either and hopes that the viewer simply appreciates it for what it is. This movie is a diamond in the rough of tedious movies. While this movie might make you think that it is tedious, watch the whole movie and just absorb because I guarantee that you will like it. I personally am not one for (seemingly) morose movies, but this movie comes from somewhere else. Great movie.

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No Doubts Left UnTold

7/10
Author: Kenny Buchholz from Midlothian, VA, US
28 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There is "no Doubt" that the performances turned in by Streep and Hoffman are outstanding. One should see this film, if for no other reason, but this alone.

Set in the early 1960's at a Catholic school, the film (and play I presume) present a subtle and somewhat hidden tale that delivers very superficial hints at homosexuality, child sexual abuse by priests, the relevance of religion in modern culture, progressive vs conservative culture and religious dogma. All of this is tied up in a messy bow of a meandering narrative.

As soon as the movie begins to develop a cogent point, it just as hastily veers off into another topic leaving the last unresolved. I gather this very well may be the point.

While some could well argue that Streep's character's breakdown at the end of the movie is the climactic endpoint bring all the Doubts illuminated throughout the movie into one sharp point, I would rather suggest that it is less a point rather than a prism that breaks all the Doubts into a final array of unresolved Doubts.

It is a good film and one that could lead naturally to a lot of follow-up discussion. I have to admit that I don't know whether I was truly satisfied at the end or just left with a nagging sense that I should have been given more in this film than just all the Doubts about many facets of this film. And perhaps that was the point.

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Great piece

Author: alvaro_chan from Santo Domingo
20 September 2009

This is a great piece. The way is all put together is just amazing. The cast is perfect, the cinematography, there were some camera angles that really added to the overall intention of the movie.

What a great script. It is awesome when the intention is palpable in every scene, in every bit of film. There is no waist.

It is clear that the whole crew was in the same page every step of the way. I love movies that there keep you hooked from beginning to end. The way it narrates the life inside these kind of schools was also really good. Although I did not like the fact that it end verbalizing the name of the movie.

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A Troubling Movie That Raises Questions

7/10
Author: sddavis63 (revsdd@gmail.com) from Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada
22 August 2009

After watching this I was left with very mixed feelings and honestly didn't have a clue what to do with it. The story deals with an old school nun (played by Meryl Streep) who is principal of a parish school who, without any real evidence, accuses a priest whom she obviously doesn't like, of sexual misconduct with a student. Essentially that's the story. In that sense, it's simple and straightforward.

My first reaction was a sense of relief that in an age when about the only thing we hear about Catholic priests is allegations of sexual misconduct we were essentially being shown a movie about the priest as a victim - except that in this case he's being victimized by a nun. It seems again to be a case (somewhat subtler than some) of the church and/or religion being used as a "whipping boy." The message seems to be that the church/religion/religious people cannot be portrayed in a good light. Frankly, I believed Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman.) While he clearly had some personal demon that tormented him, I never believed that he abused the boy. But this movie still comes across as a slam, because of the horrible behaviour of Sister Aloysius, who demonstrates ultimately that she will go to any lengths (honest or not) to destroy this man.

That the abuse issue in the Catholic Church is caused by the very structure of the Catholic Church is demonstrated. The extremely hierarchical and secretive nature of the church tends (as we have seen) to insulate the accused behind a protective veil at times. That's pointed out here as Flynn points out to Aloysius that she should be following proper channels in making her accusations. Insisting on the use of proper procedures doesn't mean a priest is guilty, of course. It's the system, but the very system adds to suspicion and gossip. The damage that can be done by unfounded gossip is clearly illustrated by Flynn with the pillow story. I found the reaction of the boy's mother when Aloysius shared her suspicions with her troubling to say the least, and the end of the movie was - to me - a bit empty. Aloysius confesses her doubts to Sister James (Amy Adams.) Doubts about what? Has her belief in Flynn's guilt caused her to doubt her faith? Has the response of the church (simply assigning Flynn to another parish) caused her to doubt the church? Or, is she suddenly admitting doubt about Flynn's guilt and remorse about forcing him out of the parish? Doubt is valuable in a life of faith. Raising questions is what pushes us to grow and ultimately expand our faith, but I still would have liked to have known exactly what her doubts were about. There's also food for thought here about how easy it is for people in certain professions (teacher, clergy, doctor, police, etc.) to be falsely accused and have their reputations destroyed simply because someone decides that they don't like them.

I was not overwhelmed by the performances in this movie. Hoffman was good as Flynn, while I had trouble accepting Streep in the role of Aloysius. Amy Adams - with an air of innocence about her - was believable as Sister James, concerned about the boy, concerned about Father Flynn being treated unfairly, concerned about the behaviour of Aloysius, but all the way through seeming confused as to what she should do about it. The movie isn't exciting, but it does raise a lot of questions. For that alone, I give it a 7/10.

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Bleak and dark

10/10
Author: kosmasp
6 August 2009

And when I say dark, I'm not referring to the clothes in the movie. It's morally ambiguous and it might leave you with more questions than answers, but it's striking nevertheless. The powerhouse performances we get to see in this movie, are worthy Oscar contenders and leave free interpretations as to which character will be to your liking (or which character you despise the most).

While many movies do give you moral clarity, this one plays with many things, that are never fully uncovered ... or maybe they are and I'm just not willing to accept them? Actually it leaves room for some interpretations of things that went down (no pun intended). It's about guilt, it's about doubt and many other things, that makes us human. How you receive the movie might say a lot more about yourself than the movie itself. Which is a great thing. A movie that actually makes you think, even long after the credits finished ...

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

People In Glass Houses Throw Some Stones

6/10
Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland
17 February 2014

Worried that a priest's interest in a young black choir boy may be something more sinister than spiritual Sister James goes to the mother superior Sister Aloysuis Beauvier with her concerns . Suspecting Sister James is correct Sister Beauvier tells Father Brendan Flynn to leave the parish

No prizes for guessing why the BBC showed this film . It's a tribute to the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman . That said because the premise also involves child sexual abuse the film is given added topicality . Let me explain to non British members website . For the last few months we have seen many British celebrities being either arrested , charged or taken to court on sexual abuse charges . Several big profile cases have already taken place with most of the defendants being found not guilty . The jury have seen all the evidence put in front of them , have weighed up the evidence and returned their verdict . The sad thing is that even is someone is found not guilty then there's still the element of no smoke without fire . It's a sad fact amongst certain sections of the general public that they seem to take it upon themselves that they know better than a jury who have seen all the evidence . If I was sitting on a jury I'd make sure I'd weighed up all the evidence

This is the problem with DOUBT . The audience are presented with no evidence what so ever . Sister James is suspicious relays her suspicions to the mother superior who instantly judges Father Brendan guilty because ... well because . She knows better , she's had experience in these cases and that's the end of it . Let's not beat about the bush here . Father Brendan is a catholic priest and that should be enough to get anyone's secular spidey senses tingling . However the supposed child victim doesn't make any allegations and it's left to sour faced religious zealots to judge if their peer is guilty of something . There is a very strong element that the mother superior simply doesn't like Father Brendan possibly because he is popular with his flock so she might be pursuing an agenda of her own . This ambiguity is paradoxically the story's strength but at the same time its major weakness . Father Brendan may be a paedophile or he may not be . We never find out and because all the protagonists worship the cult of superstition it's very difficult for this humanist audience member to empathise with any of them . DOUBT is a well acted film but because the ambiguity is the entire subtext I'm going to have to return a not proved verdict

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