[Screen It]

 

"DOUBT"
(2008) (Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Minor Heavy Minor None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None None None Mild
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild Mild Moderate Heavy Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A 1960s era Catholic principal/nun tries to prove that the church's priest is behaving inappropriately with the school's lone black student.
PLOT:
It's 1964, and Sister Aloysius Beauvier (MERYL STREEP) is the head nun and principal at St. Nicholas Church School where she run the place with an eagle eye and an absolute demand for rule following. While troublemaker William London (MICHAEL ROUKIS) doesn't seem fazed by her, most of the students are terrified of the steely sister, but find comfort in the priest, Father Brendan Flynn (PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN). Unorthodox in his sermons and ways of dealing with the students -- including altar boys Jimmy Hurley (LLOYD CLAY BROWN) and Donald Muller (JOSEPH FOSTER) -- he's made Sister Aloysius suspicious of his behavior.

That comes to a head when young nun Sister James (AMY ADAMS) reports that Donald was acting strangely after a private meeting with Father Flynn and smelled of alcohol. Determined to out him if he's responsible but knowing she must tread cautiously since he's her superior, Sister Aloysius then sets out to prove him of wrongdoing, including meeting with the boy's mother, Mrs. Muller (VIOLA DAVIS), in hopes of finding signs of his guilt.

With Father Flynn proclaiming his innocence and Sister Aloysius certain of his guilt, her quest becomes a battle of both their wills and the truth, with the future of 12-year-old Donald -- the school's lone black student -- also hanging in the balance.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or the subject matter, it doesn't seem too likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For thematic material.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MERYL STREEP plays the principal at the Catholic school where she's the head nun and enforcer of discipline and rule-following. Her suspicions of Father Flynn are reinforced when Sister James reports her own suspicions about the priest and Donald, and she then sets out to prove his guilt. She states it's for the boy's best interest, but the fact that she doesn't like the priest's unorthodox ways, including trying to modernize the church, means she could also be using this as an excuse to get rid of him and thus stay the course.
  • PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN plays her superior, the church/school's priest who denies any wrongdoing with Donald, but whose actions and behavior could suggest otherwise. He briefly drinks and smokes.
  • AMY ADAMS plays a young nun and teacher who reports her suspicions about him and Donald to Sister Aloysius, but then is uncertain if her doubts are legitimate, thus leaving her in an uneasy place at the school.
  • JOSEPH FOSTER plays the school's lone black student who seems to like the attention paid to him by Father Flynn, and may or may not be sexually abused by him, while we hear he's physically abused by his father back home.
  • LLOYD CLAY BROWN plays his fellow altar boy who briefly cusses.
  • MICHAEL ROUKIS plays the school's resident troublemaker who doesn't fear Sister Aloysius and fakes his own illness to get out of school. He pulls out a cigarette in one scene, but we don't see him smoke it.
  • VIOLA DAVIS plays Donald's mother who's nervous about Sister Aloysius' reason for contacting her, especially since it might threaten her son's academic chances and physical safety at home at the hands of his abusive father.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this drama that's rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 1 "s" word, while a handful of other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. There are non-explicit allegations/suggestions of sexual abuse, but nothing is ever seen or proved.

    Bad attitudes are present, there's brief alcohol content and comments, and some brief smoking. Some of the confrontations between a priest and a nun who's accusing him of said abuse may be somewhat tense for some viewers, while tense family material (all in the form of discussion of unseen events) is present, as are various thematic elements.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there's some lightning during a thunderstorm.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • We see Jimmy and Donald preparing the sacrament wine at church.
  • Some priests have wine with a meal, while Father Flynn appears to have a beer.
  • Sister James suspects that something is amiss regarding Father Flynn and his behavior toward Donald, reporting to Sister Aloysius that the boy acted oddly after a private meeting with the priest and smelled of alcohol. Father Flynn later defends that, saying the boy was caught drinking the sacrament wine and that he (Father Flynn) was trying to protect the boy from losing his status as an altar boy.
  • Sister Aloysius confronts Father Flynn and tells him the sensation he felt comforting Donald was not virtue (instead implying it's sexual), and adds that it can be had by any drunk with rum (or something along those lines).
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • William holds a bloody hanky to his nose when leaving school, but we later hear he did this to himself to get out of class.
  • An older nun's face is a little bloody following an unseen fall.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • When asked, William says he doesn't have one of his books with him, prompting Sister James to tell him to share with another student. William, however, complains that the boy has bad breath, prompting the other students to laugh at that other kid.
  • William holds a bloody hanky to his nose when leaving school, but we later hear he did this to himself to get out of class.
  • Father Flynn and a few other priests jokingly laugh at some story about a fat daughter (who isn't there).
  • Father Flynn may or may not be abusing 12-year-old Donald, while Sister Aloysius may be using such allegations as a way to get rid of him and his desire to shake up and modernize the church.
  • William purposefully pulls and/or knocks stuff from Donald's hands in the school hallway, thus spilling stuff onto the floor (and breaking a knickknack Father Flynn gave Donald).
  • Mrs. Muller reports that her husband "beat the hell out of" their son upon learning of him drinking the sacrament wine at church. She also implies that Donald has been beaten for his overall nature, adding that her husband doesn't like the boy and will kill him over something like these allegations of inappropriate contact with the priest.
  • Some viewers might see Donald's mother as having a bad attitude for apparently being willing to allow Father Flynn to abuse him, knowing it's only short-term until the boy goes on to high school (she states the boy needs to graduate from the Catholic school to get to the next academic round, and that allegations of priestly abuse would get the boy in trouble with his abusive father back home, and the mom uses both as an excuse for turning a blind eye to any such abuse at church).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Some of the confrontations between Father Flynn and Sister Aloysius may be somewhat tense for some viewers.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Bullsh*t," "His father beat the hell out of him," "Well, go back and shut up," "You're insane" and "I'm damned to Hell."
  • William holds a bloody hanky to his nose when leaving school, but we later hear he did this to himself to get out of class.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "s" word and 1 hell.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Sister Aloysius confronts Father Flynn and tells him the sensation he felt comforting Donald was not virtue (instead implying it's sexual), and adds that it can be had by any drunk with rum (or something along those lines). There are other allegations/suggestions of sexual abuse, but nothing that's explicitly stated, seen, or proven.
  • SMOKING
  • Father Flynn smokes once as does a miscellaneous character.
  • A man asks Jimmy to buy him some cigarettes and a magazine, but the boy says he can't as he's on his way to the church.
  • Upon leaving school, William pulls out a cigarette and puts it in his mouth, but we don't see him smoke it.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Sister Aloysius briefly mentions her husband being killed in a previous war.
  • Mrs. Muller reports that her husband "beat the hell out of" their son upon learning of him drinking the sacrament wine at church. She also implies that Donald has been beaten for his overall nature, adding that her husband doesn't like the boy and will kill him over something like these allegations of inappropriate contact with the priest.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Sexual abuse at the hands of some Catholic priests.
  • The effect that doubt can have on people and their decision making.
  • Father Flynn's sermon asking what one does when they're not sure (referring to the effects of doubt), the notion of a crisis of faith, and that doubt can be as powerful a bond among those reacting to it as certainty.
  • In his sermon, Father Flynn references the recent assassination of President Kennedy.
  • The notion of individual vs. collective calamity.
  • It's noted that one older nun is going blind, and Sister Aloysius tries to cover that up as much as possible so that the other sister doesn't lose her position.
  • The changes that affected the Catholic Church in the 1960s.
  • Father Flynn wanting to change the way the Catholic Church operates, and Sister Aloysius' resistance toward that.
  • Father Flynn delivers a sermon about gossip, equating it to cutting open a pillow from a rooftop and then not being able to gather all of the feathers once they've blown away.
  • Father Flynn's comment that some cruel people kill kindness to others in the name of virtue.
  • Mrs. Muller reports that her husband "beat the hell out of" their son upon learning of him drinking the sacrament wine at church. She also implies that Donald has been beaten for his overall nature, adding that her husband doesn't like the boy and will kill him over something like these allegations of inappropriate contact with the priest.
  • Donald being the first and only black student at the school.
  • The comment that in the pursuit of wrongdoing, one steps away from God, but there is a price for doing so.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Sister Aloysius slaps a boy on the back of the head for chatting during Father Flynn's sermon.
  • William purposefully pulls and/or knocks stuff from Donald's hands in the school hallway, thus spilling stuff onto the floor (and breaking a knickknack Father Flynn gave Donald).



  • Reviewed November 21, 2008 / Posted December 12, 2008

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [American Made] [Battle of the Sexes] [Flatliners] [A Question of Faith] [Stronger]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2017 Screen It, Inc.