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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Campus Cinema hosts Barbenheimer double feature
Campus Cinema hosts 'Barbenheimer' double feature
Abigail FaixDecember 3, 2023

Play successfully translates to big screen

Film: Doubt

Director: John Patrick Shanley

Producer: Scott Rudin

Writer: John Patrick Shanley

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Starring: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams

Runtime: 104 minutes

Rating: PG-13


Pedophilia is a taboo subject, even in Hollywood. So one would think that a film about one of the most detestable actions a person can take may seem like it would be relatively cut-and-dry, but “Doubt” sets out to prove that it’s anything but.

Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Streep) is not a woman one wants to cross. She runs her Catholic school with a quiet fury, where a single look is enough to strike fear into anyone. She feels morals and values at St. Nicholas School have been slowly decaying. She wants to put the fear of God back into students. On the other side is Father Brendan Flynn (Hoffman), a kind and compassionate man who appears to truly care about the students at St. Nicholas. When Sister James (Adams) goes to Sister Aloysius with suspicions that Father Flynn may be giving too much attention to Donald Miller (Joseph Foster), the newly admitted black student, Aloysius feels that her fears have finally been realized and sets out on a campaign of accusations in order to rid the school of Father Flynn.

Based on John Patrick Shanley’s stage play of the same name, “Doubt” indeed feels like a film meant for the stage, but it’s because of this that it works so well. It’s a small, intimate story and does not require elaborate cinematography or grandiose sets. Shanley does a masterful job adapting his quick-fire dialogue-driven script for the screen. It is because of this script that we receive such brilliant performances from the main cast.

While all the performers in this film are amazing, Streep once again displays a versatility that’s incredible to watch. Her ability to slip into a character is astounding and she is well deserving of any and all praise she might receive. Adams, who is quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s best actresses, holds her own quite well against Streep. Adams’ wide-eyed, innocent portrayal of a young, idealistic nun is a pleasure to watch. Then we have Hoffman, another incredibly versatile actor, who plays his character with immense likeability. So much, in fact, that if he is actually guilty of what he has been accused of, one might still have trouble not liking him. Viola Davis, who plays Donald Miller’s mother, is incredible in her screen debut as a not so typical mother just trying to get her son through the school year, regardless of what may be occurring.

Throughout the story we’re given themes of faith, power and uncertainty. One can imagine it being easy for Sister Aloysius to accuse Father Flynn of what he may have done without proof. She’s able to believe in God blindly, and she’s able to accuse people with the same sense of proof-less certainty. As much of a bitch as Sister Aloysius is, one cannot help but feel bad for her. She’s an old woman whom the world has treated badly, yet one must ask the most important question: What if she’s right? Should she have accused Father Flynn as hastily as she did in order to protect the children of the school, or should she have waited until she had definitive proof? Sister James is the most level-headed character out of the three. She has her suspicions but needs concrete evidence. Although she may suspect Father Flynn, she is also blinded by her devotion to him.

What is truly amazing about “Doubt” is its ability to make us look at pedophilic priests in a different way. Instead of treating them with absolute disgust, we see them as human and we feel bad for their natural born attraction. Not many films can make the viewer sympathize with such a hated notion, but “Doubt” does it flawlessly.

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