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Doubt (2008)

"Before viewing" talks introduce the film without spoilers. Watch it, then click on the "After viewing" talk for more. More»» by Randy Heffner

Why the film is worth your time

The simple title Doubt captures the film’s exploration well. The story deals with certainty and doubt around certain events, but the film evokes an exploration of doubt that runs deeper than the story. But, whether one engages at the story level or the deeper level, Doubt is a well-crafted, engaging tale. Doubt swirls in and around both the racial tensions of the US civil rights movement and the religious tensions of the Second Vatican Council, and both deepen the film’s exploration of certainty and doubt. The acting is especially excellent, particularly by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep. The film employs numerous metaphorical elements, sometimes playing them a tad too strongly, but this concern is minor in relation to the overall impact of the film. Running time: 103 min.

In 1964, in The Bronx, New York City, the iron-fisted and staunchly traditional Sister Aloysius Beauvier is principal of St. Nicholas Catholic school. By contrast, the head priest of St. Nicholas Catholic Church, Father Flynn, believes the church can touch more lives with a softer, more inclusive tone. She is at first distrustful of him, then tensions between them grow when she finds specific reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. Caught in the middle, the young Sister James is torn between her desires for justice, peace, respect, and grace. Sister Aloysius is fierce in her pursuit of Father Flynn, putting the pieces of evidence together in her mind like a puzzle.

One word of profanity. However, at the center of Doubt is the possibility that a disturbing crime was committed.

  • Director: John Patrick Shanley
  • Screenplay: John Patrick Shanley
  • Leads: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis
  • Cinematography: Roger Deakins
  • Music: Howard Shore


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"After viewing" talks assume that you have seen the film. They will contain spoilers. More»» by Randy Heffner

How the film enriched and changed me

Doubt reinforced for me the dangers of prematurely moving into a position of certainty. In the film, the core issue of doubt versus certainty revolves around facts of this world — whether or not Father Flynn did or did not do certain things. Yet

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Screenshots and dialog copyright © 2008 by the filmmakers.


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NOTE: It is okay to have spoilers in comments on After viewing talks — no warnings necessary.

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