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Doubt (2008)Doubt (2008)

Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is the priest of St. Nicholas parish in the Bronx in 1964. He smokes, drinks, takes sugar with his tea, preaches relevant sermons, and even thinks that a secular song would be good for the Christmas play. "The church must change," he says. Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep), the principal of the school, is Flynn's polar opposite. She's loveless, joyless, authoritarian, and thinks the worst of everyone — especially of Father Flynn. So we're not surprised when she accuses him of an indiscretion with the school's first black student. When he strenuously objects, she responds, "I have no proof, I have my certainty." Just when you thought the film traded on clumsy stereotypes, further layers of genuine complexity, ambiguity and "doubt" emerge. We the viewers are left with genuine doubt about what to think. Except for the last thirty seconds of the film, which I thought betrayed its character, Doubt contrasts religion that reduces virtue to moralism and that prioritizes human compassion as its greatest good.

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