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Doubt
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3 Stars - Good
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Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for thematic material)
Genre
Directed By
John Patrick Shanley
Run Time
1 hour 44 minutes
Cast
Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis
Theatre Release
December 25, 2008 by Miramax

Doubt is a bundle of questions, chiseled to a point and encased in the trappings of a Catholic church era now nearly forgotten. It boasts one of the finest leading casts this year—seventeen Oscar nominations between them—and some heavy, yet relevant source material. Based on the Pulitzer-prize winning play, this Doubt was re-written for the screen and directed by its playwright, John Patrick Shanley.

The year is 1964, and Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) is the principal of St. Nicholas Church School, a Catholic grade school in the Bronx.  Sister Aloysius hovers hawk-like above the school, swooping in as an agent of wrath to punish wayward students via a well-timed smack to the crown of the head. She watches over the other nuns in the parish—including sweet, naïve eighth grade teacher Sister James (Amy Adams)—but it's unclear whether her care is borne of respect, or a preservation instinct for the parish's vanguard.

On the other hand, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), pastor of the St. Nicholas parish, is a man of his time—which, not accidentally, is that of the Second Vatican Council—and a proponent of a kinder, friendlier church, one in which love and kindness prevail over fear.  "Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty," Father Flynn preaches to his congregation, scandalizing Sister Aloysius, to whom doubt is equivalent to sin, or at least a questionable weakness of character. He exhorts his congregation toward tolerance of one another and away from gossip, and teaches the boys to shoot a free throw, wash under their fingernails, and not take it too seriously when girls don't want to dance with them.

One day, Sister Aloysius spots something that affirms her already-entrenched ...

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