Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"You should understand that or you will mistake me!"

Doubt (2008), seeks to recreate the play written by John Patrick Shanley, wrestling with epistemological issues, particularly through Sister Aloysius Beauvier (played by Meryl Streep) and her quest to achieve knowledge. She attempts to prove that Father Flynn (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) is engaging in inappropriate, insinuating sexual conduct with Donald Miller, the only African American student attending the Catholic school. The film beautifully unfolds, investigating and tackling several issues beyond surface-level cinema.

The confrontation between Sister Beauvier and Father Flynn culminates in their explosive altercation (the clip for which may be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpI6pgp33a4&feature=related). The audience, greatly intrigued, cannot help but keep their eyes glued to the exchange of exclamations between the two clearly flustered characters. Their argument reaches its pinnacle as Sister Beauvier interrupts with rage, "I will step outside the church if that's what needs to be done or the doors will shut behind me! I will do what needs to be done, or I'm damned to hell! You should understand that or you will mistake me. Now did you Donald Miller wine to drink?"

*SPOILER ALERT* Upon the conclusion of the film, the audience finds Sister Adams and Sister Beauvier sitting on benches outside the church. Sister Adams somberly inquires the truthfulness of Sister Beauvier's alleged discovery that Father Flynn indeed engaged in inappropriate relations with Donald Miller. However, after a period of stark silence, Sister Beauvier cries out despairingly as she begins to uncontrollably weep, "Oh, Sister James... I have doubts. I have such doubts!" Her outburst stands unexpected in that her character throughout the film is fundamentally grounded in audacity, resolve, and certainty until this moment of vulnerability. Her statement of uncertainty appears twofold; that is, she effectively expresses not only doubt for Father Flynn's actions, but moreover, doubt in her belief in God. A cinematically striking film, Doubt masterfully conveys the confusing struggles one may encounter in the pursuit of knowledge and confidence in readily held beliefs.

-Cody Aros

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