Doubtful


I liked the movie Doubt. A little on the heavy side, but I saw it on Sunday afternoon, a very low stress time of the week, so I was able to give it my attention without the usual fatigue of an after work movie. Great acting I thought by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep.

In this picture the two antagonists seem to be co-operating in some way, though in fact, they are deep enemies. Streep plays a school principal in 60’s America who suspects a priest is abusing a lonely boy whom he has befriended. Hoffman is the bluff priest. They play out a dilemna of the Catholic church of the time, between Streep’s rule-bound hell fire and damnation conservative nun and Hoffman’s emotional, ‘loving’ (or perhaps perverted?) reach out to the people priest.

The main pleasure was in watching these two great actors square off against each other. The afternoon passed for me like a blink of an eye, I was so engrossed. In terms of the story though, I was so disatisfied. We never find out if the accusation has merit – we are also left in a state of doubt. And I’m not really sure what the movie is trying to say then.

On the one hand, sex abuse of children was a dirty secret of the church in this era, inflicting enormous harm. In fact, this abuse was routinely covered up, if it ever came to light at the time. So in that context, the principal in this movie is quite heroic in confronting the priest about this, however unsympathetic her religious approach is to our modern feelings. On the other hand, she has no compelling evidence of abuse besides her own ‘strong feeling’, and she admits as much. So is the priest then being harassed for no reason, by an unstable, repressed nun with ‘issues’?

The movie doesn’t help me with these questions at all.Hey, I appreciate ambiguity and shades of grey as much as the next person. But in this case – I want to know. What is the point here?

I’d still recommend this movie to anyone though.

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