Friday, March 20, 2009

Doubt (Rhoades)

“Doubt” Casts Its Flickering Shadow at the Tropic

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

My wife went to Catholic school, a strict regimen where the penguins were quick to rap you across the knuckles with a ruler and give you three Hail May’s if you didn’t behave properly. Times were simpler then. Nuns and priests were beyond suspicion. No one questioned their behavior with young students and alter boys.

“Doubt” – the film that garnered Meryl Streep her 15th Oscar nomination – is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.

Those of you who enjoy live theater saw a recent performance of “Doubt” at the Waterfront Playhouse. This film is based on the play, and in addition to Streep it offers Philip Seymour Hoffman as the priest under scrutiny and Amy Adams as the young nun wrestling with her conscience.

The plot is right out of today’s headlines. Not long ago, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles concluded a $660 million settlement -- the largest single payout related to the Church’s sexual abuse crisis. An additional $615 million was spent by the Catholic Church on sexual abuse cases in 2007 alone.

As Time Magazine noted, “Since the issue exploded in 2002 with the scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston, it has been difficult to force the Vatican to respond directly … since, according to the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, the Holy See is outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.”
But within the walls of the Bronx diocese in the film, Sister Aloysius (Streep) is not about to let abuse go unchecked, even if there are doubts as to the facts of the matter.

Joseph Foster plays the young boy receiving special attention from the priest. And Viola Davis portrays his mother, a shower stopper with her one-scene performance that has been called "a near-miraculous level of believability.”

The film received five Academy Award nominations. In addition to Ms. Streep’s well-deserved nod, Hoffman, Adams, and Davis were recognized for their moving performances. And playwright/screenwriter John Patrick Shanley’s script was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

As for the film’s theme, this is not an indictment of the 1.1 billion members of the Roman Catholic Church, but rather a dramatic examination of how we approach our belief systems.
Keep in mind, the film is called “Doubt,” not “Faith.”
[from Solares Hill]

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