Doubt (John Patrick Shanley, 2008, USA)

#93 in my list of the top 100 spiritually literate films is Doubt. In Doubt, Father Brendan Flynn tells us that “Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty. When you are lost, you are not alone.” This belief becomes the crux of this story’s conflict when he gets questioned about his relationship with a young student at his school. The school principal and Father Flynn have starkly contrasting viewpoints on certainty and truth and these play themselves out throughout the investigation and conversations held behind closed doors.

Amy Adams marvelously portrays Sister James who his caught in the middle and pulled by both sides lobbying for their own truth. Is Flynn guilty? One of the geniuses of Doubt is that it doesn’t tell us. The audience becomes something of a fourth party to the drama as it unfolds and must decide for ourselves what we believe. He may be guilty, and he may not be. The answer to that question, however, is not the point. The bigger question we inevitably come face to face in this film is what is our response when we are uncertain? Does doubt break our faith or build its resolve?

Doubt is brilliantly acted, and is a great examination of doubt, fear, morality, and over stepping religious boundaries in the midst of a catholic school and its leaders. Doubt and certainty have been at war with each other since the Garden of Eden and this film attempts to answer the question that it opens with “What do you do when you are not sure?”

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