See I told you so! Be honest, we all carry that with us: impression. It could be the way he talks, the way he walks, or simply it may as well be the way he looks. As scientists will tell you, our perception and cognition are based on categorization, i.e., we match things alike to unburden information overload, and purposely so to form an opinion to decide flight or fight. Hence, witness testimonials are attested to be inaccurate most of the time.
So what makes Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep) having such conviction and certainty?!other than coerced-conviction:she will wear you out till you submit and confess. On the other hand, we have Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who talks about compassion and love, and wants you to overlook everything else, but yet he is just as vindictive only in more a gentle and intelligent way. Then there is the naive Sister James (Amy Adams), who represents pure and innocent.
The story is based in 1964, depicted in the background are changes: social, cultural, political, and institutional. If you are interested in those, I think it gives a true reflection of what went on then. But without reference to this time-frame, I believe Doubt is a time-less piece for the simple fact that humans could be irrational.
The premise is about the only black kid in a co-ed Catholic school, where the kid is protected by the pastor of the church, Father Flynn. We don’t know if his intent is out of love and compassion, or out of natural repressed emotions? (I am sure you know what I am trying to say but not saying… Catholic priest wink! wink!). There is an accusation, and Sister Aloysius is not allowing a lie, perhaps, to go away, cause she knows with certainty that Father Flynn has unsightly long nails (odd and un-priestly)!!!! Besides, how could Sister James ignore those fresh pressed flowers use as bookmark of Father Flynn’s bible (Isn’t that too colourful for someone who represents the sombre Catholic church of traditions). It’s an onion this one! so peel as you watch, and prepare to get moist (your eyes!).
To warrant no doubts coming out of this, I glue to my monitor and listen and read very lines there are, and they are superb and well-crafted. There are so many scenes that will touch you, make you hold your breadth, make you doubt Sister Aloysius, make you doubt Father Flynn, …. And if I were taking Acting 101, I wish my prof. would show the following clips:
1) The sermon of Father Flynn on gossip
2) Mrs. Millers and Sister Aloysius
3) Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn ( Compassion and Confession)
4) Sister James and Sister Aloysius ( I have doubts)
How do they do that?