Doubt (2008)

doubt (2008) movie poster 4.5 rating  (4.5/5) drama

Reference: imdb6 | wikipedia12

Reviews: Roger Ebert (4 of 4) | IMDb External Reviews | Rotten Tomatoes 77% | Metacritic 68%

In Doubt (2008) the principal of a Catholic school and senior nun (Meryl Streep) suspects a priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) of being involved in an inappropriate relationship with an alter boy.

On that premise I did not want to watch this movie. But, all four of its primary actors were nominated for an academy award. I couldn’t pass it by. I’m glad I didn’t. The writing and all four performances were superb.

doubt (2008) meryl streep confronts philp seymour hoffman
doubt (2008) meryl streep confesses to having committed a mortal sin Meryl Streep demonstrates, once again, why she is the reigning queen of cinema. I disliked her character intensely. But there are layers to this nun that are not readily apparent. Each nuance is played to perfection by Streep – including a New Jersey accent and persona that is reminiscent of Edie Falco’s Carmela Soprano.

doubt (2008) philp seymour hoffman is confronted by meryl streep Philip Seymour Hoffman knocks another one out of the park. Prior to seeing the movie I doubted that an actor that so convincingly played Truman Capote and a cynical spy in Charlie Wilson’s War could pull off a sympathetic Catholic priest. But he did.

doubt (2008) amy adams smiles at philp seymour hoffman in gym I’m a bit concerned that Amy Adams is getting stuck in a type-cast ghetto. As in Enchanted (2007) and June Bug (2005), she plays a pure-as-the driven-snow, bubbly and naive character. In this case – a junior nun wanting to believe that the priest didn’t do it. She is nominated here for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Amy is very good as this type of character and her performance, I guess, is once again worthy of an Oscar nomination. But I’m starting to feel I’ve ‘seen-it-all-before’ with her. I hope she picks roles that broaden her range in the future.

doubt (2008) viola davis is confronted by meryl streepTV star Viola Davis is also nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. She plays the mother of the alter boy. Her surprisingly excellent performance lasts, perhaps, less than 10 minutes. I hadn’t expected it to be interesting, let alone Oscar worthy. But it was. As with Streep’s character, there are unexpected nuances skillfully performed by Viola.

An unseen star of the film is John Patrick Shanley, the screenplay writer (and director). The movie has been nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. The writing is first rate. Particularly Hoffman’s sermons and the verbal sparring matches between Streep and Hoffman and Streep and Viola Davis.

doubt (2008) philp seymour hoffman and amy adams talk on a bench

One of the many memorable quotes in this movie was delivered by Hoffman to Adams in the scene depicted above:

“There are people who go after your humanity sister. They tell you that the light in your heart is a weakness. Don’t believe it. It’s an old tactic of cruel people to kill kindness in the name of virtue.”

This is not a blockbuster. It is small and intimate – like a thought provoking novelette read over a cup of tea. Once it gets rolling, each scene is intensely interesting. I highly recommend it.

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  1. // Reply

    Great review. i concur with your comments completely. I still don't understand why Kate Winslet is up for best Actress in the Oscars and everyone else nominated her for supporting actress in her role. I may still vote for Meryl on Sunday…She was brilliant in this role.

    I will send you my oscar pics by Sunday afternoon. I still have 4 more movies to see.

  2. // Reply

    ok … looking forward to them … I think any nomination of Kate Winslet as anything OTHER than a lead actress in The Reader was wrong! Movies can, and usually do, have more than one lead. I'm still cheering for Kate. It's her time!

  3. // Reply

    Wow, that is an excellent quote — an aphoristic nugget, to be sure.

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