Publisher's note: It nearly kills me to admit this, but Wyatt is probably our most read writer. Just a few nights ago, May 12, 2012, I was perusing our sister publication, Better Angels Now, and I noticed that so many of Wyatt's reviews, of the many fine films that occupy the public's interest, have not been availed to our readers through our Beaufort County Now publication.
Consequently, over the next few weeks, we will endeavor to remedy this mild injustice by publishing these reviews, in our current improved format, for your edification. Here below is our third in a series of these older articles of interest by our good friend, Wyatt Sanderman Day.
Defense of Morality or Subjective Power Play?
Or just my perception of a couple of the many questions posed in the film "Doubt:" a film with many more questions asked, rather than answers supplied. That is what I shall attempt to resolve in my review of this character driven film, with a trio of fine actors, and, remarkably, all three were nominated for the Academy Awards their respective roles. Of course, no actor is nominated for any role, with any chance of winning the Oscar, without an inciteful script.
John Michael Shanley: wrote the play, wrote the screenplay and directed the film, and used this control of quality to insure that he would produce an outstanding film that is tight at just 104 minutes, with no waste in time or the talent hired to produce it.
Meryl Streep turned in her usual solid performance as the no nonsense Sister / Principal Sister Aloysius Beauvier, who was suspicious of everything and everyone. It wasn't that she was a bad person, just a mistrusting one, which is rather unchristian. She, on occasion, would declare this maxim to her fellow sisters, especially Amy Adams as Sister James, "When you take a step to address wrongdoing, you are taking a step away from God, but in his service."
Amy Adams, was 34 years old when she made this film, and could easily pass for 17 (in the right light). She is developing into such a fine actress, but you would probably know of her potential if you had seen her headline the 2007 sleeper "Enchanted." She was perfectly cast as the spirit filled sister, who had not yet had the optimistic enthusiasm for a purposeful existence ripped from her soul. She embodied the spirit of Christ. Sadly, Sister Aloysius did not.
To Sister Aloysius, Father Flynn was an enigma, and in the mid 1960's, when this story was set, men (even fathers in the priesthood) were almost always in charge, and could, on occasion, get away with mischief. And in those days, before the Vietnam War and hippies "wearing flowers in their hair," there was structure - copious quantities of structure - and never more than in the Catholic Church School system. Sister Aloysius allowed no shenanigans, especially if she assumed that a popular priest was taking liberties with a young boy.
That priest, Father Flynn, astutely portrayed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, took interest in the first "negro" child, a boy named Donald Miller, in that Catholic School, and Sister Aloysius may have been guilty of imagining too much. Regardless, she is in doubt, and lord knows, she means well; however, she tend to bully folks rather than listen to them.
For some this film may offer little resolution, while asking far too many questions. For me it is a well acted vehicle that establishes a story built around the issues of its time and yet timeless in its narrative on the condition of the human spirit, which still has relevance in today's society - Catholic and otherwise.
Rated PG13. Released on DVD April 7, 2009.