Sunday 14 August 2011

Doubt (2008) - John Patrick Shanley

An exercise in how doubt can askew the senses – and the camera. 

Here we have two realms of the church - the ostentatious, ceremonial priesthood and the cold, usually imperturbable, nunnery and school.  These opposing worlds collide when a priest is accused of abusing a black child by the iron-tongue of the school principal Sister.  But is he a paedophile?  Or just a compassionate priest taking pity on an isolated child?  Finally, are the Sister’s doubts with the priest’s allegiance to the church or with her own faith?

Doubt’s ambiguity is its strength, cleverly drip-feeding the audience information so that we too question the fidelity of the priest.  Increasingly obscure camera angles reflect growing distrust as paranoia creeps in and tensions mount further with each subsequent scene.  Moreover, the utterly captivating performances from each actor involved are perfectly nuanced.  Audiences will be divided over the film’s outcome, undoubtedly Shanley’s intention.


For more 150 word reviews, visit Screen 150.