Doubt ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I'd been meaning to see this one since it came out five years ago. The intrigue and tension are well developed. The pace is brisk without feeling rushed, which is trickier than I think the average viewer recognizes. I also dig Roger Deakins's old school cinematography, such as shooting characters at angles to emphasize their moral decline. Amy Ryan was eclipsed in the advertising by Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (both terrific), but she holds her own as the naive Sister James.

Where the film falls flat for me is in its finale. After spending 88 minutes building the case against Father Flynn, we're left with Sister Aloysius questioning her prosecution? I realize the idea was to make us pause to consider how quickly we had taken the circumstantial evidence offered by the film and run with it, but there isn't an in-story reason for Sister Aloysius's doubt.

What was needed was a scene of some kind after Flynn's farewell sermon to break the steadfast momentum of the film against him. I think of Fritz Lang's M, where we're whipped into a frenzy to see the predator caught and satisfactorily punished, only to be taken to task for becoming so bloodthirsty ourselves as to want to circumvent the rule of law. We're not supposed to know for certain whether or not Flynn is guilty, and that's fine. But if we are to know that Sister Aloysius doubts her own prosecution, and since she is our point of view character, we do need to see the reason for that. We don't, and it's a blemish on the film.

How Doubt Entered My Flickchart

Doubt < Venus --> #1515
The narrative of Doubt is tighter and stronger, but I find that the amorality of Venus - and Peter O'Toole's shameless performance - have resonated with me more.

Doubt > The Mummy's Hand --> #1143
I really wanted to like The Mummy's Hand, but it just didn't grab me. This is a handy win for Doubt.

Doubt > The Terminal --> #953
Both have solid ideas at their core, but Doubt lives up to its potential whereas The Terminal requires a certain willfulness to enjoy.

Doubt > Home Alone 2: Lost in New York --> #857
I still don't understand just why Sister Aloysius ends up questioning herself, but otherwise Doubt is far more engaging than the recycled Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

Doubt < The Ghost and the Darkness --> #857
Having been to The Field Museum in Chicago and seen the lions of Tsavo, I feel kind of a connection to The Ghost and the Darkness that elevates it.

Doubt > The Ladykillers (2004) --> #833
I wanted to like The Ladykillers, but it just never really came together for me. I'm not in love with the final scene of Doubt but otherwise it's solid.

Doubt < Pretty Woman --> #833
Is it wrong to pick a movie because of its soundtrack album? Because that's the basis on which I'm picking Pretty Woman here even though it's contrived fluff.

Doubt > My Super Ex-Girlfriend --> #827
The intrigue throughout Doubt was engaging, whereas I never really even liked the characters in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, much less cared about what happened to them.

Doubt < This Charming Man --> #827
I was engaged throughout Doubt and I can't say it has any fat to be trimmed, but somehow I feel that This Charming Man made better use of its time.

Doubt < Full-Tilt Boogie --> #827
Doubt was engaging and intriguing, but I'm enough of a behind-the-scenes wonk that I find myself favoring the doc about the fight for health insurance for the cast and crew of From Dusk Till Dawn.

Doubt entered my Flickchart at #827/1524