Sunday, May 23, 2010
Doubt, the film
I had put it off and last night finally decided to watch the film, Doubt. The story takes place in 1964 in a Catholic church in Brooklyn when the Principal of the parish school, Sister Aloysius, accuses Father Flynn of molesting the only African American gay student, Donald Miller. Sister James, Donald's 8th grade teacher gets into the fray and wavers back and forth between thinking Father Flynn is guilty and innocent.
Sister Aloysius is a tough old, crack em along side of the head, nun who runs what she thinks is her school with a velvet fist. Father Flynn posits that she doesn't like him and wants to get rid of him and ruin his reputation as a priest for reasons that aren't clear. Sister Aloysius is certain that he is molesting Donald Miller but can't prove it and there rests the nexus of the plot.
I put off watching the film even though it had been highly recommended by friends and had been nominated for scads of Oscars because I was afraid that I would experience it as tedious and dissatisfying which is exactly what my experience was.
I was an altar boy since age of 7, and was in minor seminary until age 19. I got to watch the inimate lives of priests and never once saw, or became aware of, anything improper. Looking back now on my minor seminary days, maybe there was some hanky panky going on, but if it was going on it was very discreet and the objects of the priests lust were 17,18, and 19 year old students.
At the end of the film, the certain Sister Aloysius cries out wracked with sobs to Sister James that she suffers terribly from doubts. It is a the poignant scene in the film, and it is the way the film ends. It should have been where the film began. The doubts that Sister Aloysius sobs about seem to be much more than whether Father Flynn is a pedaphile. I got the sense that like Mother Teresa she is referring to her faith, vocation, the church, the belief in God.
I would invite Sister Aloysius to the Unitarian Universalist faith but she would have to lighten up and become less judgmental.
I don't recommend this film. I think it is a trivial treatment of the problem of pedaphilia in the church, and the crisis of faith that any true believer has as they grow up in their spirituality.
I would give it a 2 or 3 on Markham's movie must see scale.