Movie Review: Doubt (2008)


Mirroring Angelina Jolie’s harrowing performance in Changeling and raising similar moral questions as in the Oscar winning movie The Reader, Doubt is another emotional adaptation (this from the play of the same name by John Patrick Shanley), which strikes at the insecurities of humanity and challenges the notion of how far one can and should be able to take their opinion.

Doubt takes in two of Hollywood’s most vibrant (and one unexpected) musical stars — the fabulously versatile Meryl Streep (Momma Mia!) and Amy Adams (Enchanted), and has the actresses exchange their dancing shoes for a couple of habits. Taking place shortly just after President Kennedy’s assassination in America, Amy Adams is Sister James, an innocent and stubborn religious teacher at St. Nicholas and Meryl Streep is the frightening and strict principal Sister Aloysius Beauvier. Both women find themselves caught up in a story where they believe whole-heartedly that the feminine and progressive head priest, Father Brendan Flynn (Phillip Seymor Hoffman) is in fact a child-exploiting pedofile. But how far can you journey in the pursuit of justice without proof? That is the central question put forth from this controversial blockbuster.

Although the scenery is generally rather bland and uninviting, Streep’s performance shines through superbly as the fierce and feisty head teacher — constantly fighting the idea of a society dominated by men — prepared to ‘stick to her guns’ no matter what the outcome or consequences. Meryl Streep, always a fan of waiting to the near end credits to reveal another layer to her character, shows (much like her portrayal of Miranda Priestly in 2007’s The Devil Wears Prada) that her head mistress’ menacing exterior is just an image. Underneath she learns she is equally prone to the same feelings and worries about life as everyone else in the world, thus making her human.

The dark and foreboding atmosphere that is used in Doubt, far better than in any movie I have ever seen, adds to the mystery with great effect. The awkwardly exciting confrontations between Hoffman and Streep’s characters are riveting. The comical moments, such as the one where Amy Adams declares her endearing love of Frosty the Snowman are a welcome break from the seriousness of the subject matter. And the hidden messages and dire warnings throughout the film, leave you as an audience member, in doubt, in doubt whether you can or should resist a second viewing.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
4 Star Rating: Good

4

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The Critical Movie Critics

I’m a hopeless romantic and will tend to watch anything in that genre. My favourite shows are Doctor Who, Grey’s Anatomy, The Vicar Of Dibley, Charmed and Jane Austen adaptations. Movies I enjoy are Narnia, Indiana Jones, Walk The Line, musicals like Oklahoma and Sound Of Music.
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'Movie Review: Doubt (2008)' have 8 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 27, 2009 @ 1:49 pm steve

    I was going to watch this movie tonight with my girl friend , just read your review and canceled the plan . Now I am taking her out for dinner . Good Job bro !

    Reply

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 18, 2009 @ 10:32 am www.ringenvy.com

    I wish I had read your review before going for the movie :(

    Reply

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 31, 2009 @ 6:44 am Audrey

    I thought this was a great film. Any film that leaves me pondering the outcome afterward is usually pretty good. No complaints. All those subtle hints in the movie make me ask –maybe he is a pedophile, but you sincerely hate Meryl Streep’s character and see her methods as wrong. Maybe it isn’t someone else’s cup of tea, but I thought it was excellent.

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  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 12, 2009 @ 2:37 pm cyrus mishkin

    Sr. Aloyius’ character was not hateful if you understand her time and place. She was exactly the kind of mother superior her church & community expected: strict and vigilant.
    Fr. B. was, on the surface, such a mild and nice guy that her furious drive to bring him down is what makes the film so interesting. Nobody at that time had an inkling about the sexual abuse charges that would rock the church 30 years later. The film caught the drab beauty of everday working class life in the early 60s. The special effects people, however, went overboard with the lightning & windblasts: too pushy. Otherwise, the story compelled me to wonder about Sr. A’s backstory: a buried incident of sexual abuse victimhood in her pre-convent past? Whatever it is, her victory over Fr. B. doesn’t resolve it or ease her heart, and that I think constitutes the “doubts” she weeps over in the final, very poignant scene. The image of Sr. James with Sr. A. in the snowy garden is brilliant — Innocence and Experience comfort each other — and the camera pulls back nimbly and quickly enough to keep it all from seeming schmaltzy or perverse.

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  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 10, 2009 @ 4:13 pm Invisalign Thornhill

    This is a great movie with a dark atmosphere that works well.

    Reply

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 18, 2009 @ 3:55 pm irfan@doubt movie

    this movie good to watch and the cast in this movie have movie award. We will like acting Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I like you article about this doubt movie.

    Reply

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 4, 2010 @ 1:45 pm Danielle

    I rented this movie and although I liked the consept as well as the cast. I did not like the fact that they never said wether he molested the boy or not. And the only reason I say this is because if he did do it and went to another school how dangrous that would be. I think they should have let us know if he did it or not, maybe there will be a DOUGHT 2

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  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 12, 2010 @ 8:54 am Randall

    This review of Doubt is extraordinarily weak. Its author does not discuss or is not aware of the more powerful themes beyond the “limits of personal opinion.” Streep’s character is one of the people in life given the burden of seeing the harm, and Amy Adam’s character represents those who wish to stick their head in the sand and assume innocence because it is either. Granted there is some ambiguity in the outcome in order to cause the viewer to explore the themes, but only in terms of absolute direct evidence. But, with the inferential process, the proof is there. The alcohol on the breath of a child. The inexplicable t shirt placed in the locker. the mother’s admission that the boy tends to homosexuality. The priest’s admission that “something” occurred. In the end, her “doubt” is over her faith, after the preist is promoted to a larger parish. These are the battle scars borne by those who are called to do the harder work in our society, while the sheep act like Amy Adam’s character.

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