Friday, January 23, 2009

"Uncertain Sympathies." Michael V. Tueth S.J.'s take on John Patrick Shanley's film DOUBT

Adapted from the Jesuit magazine America , January 19 - 26, 2009.

"The winds of change are blowing in the Catholic church in 1964, and Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the principal of the St. Nicholas parish school, seems determined to protect her domain form any corrupting influences in the air.

"Catholics of a certain age might be tempted toward nostalgia by the film's opening shots, showing a quiet Sunday morning in this Irish - American neighborhood.

"The altar boy prepare the cruets f water and wine and negotiate which one of them will light the charcoal for the incense and which will ring the altar chimes for this pre - Vatican II Sunday Mass.

"Maybe Sister Aloysius has a point.

"But things are not as solid and certain as they seem.

"The first hint comes from a sermon given by a young priest, Father Brendan Flynn: What do you do when you're not sure? he asks the congregation.

"He suggests someone might be thinking No one knows that I've done something wrong.

"Before long, Sister Aloysius suspects that someone has been doing something wrong: Father Flynn himself.

"And she certainly disapproves of Father Flynn's comfort with and affection for the students, especially Donald Muller, who incidentally in the first African - American student admitted into the school.

"[H]e calls Donald out of a class for a private conversation in the rectory, after which the boy returns to the classroom with the smell of alcohol on his breath.

"Father has several of the boys over to the rectory for soft drinks and shooting the breeze.

"In one awkward scene, after a basketball practice, he encourages the boys to keep their fingernails clean and well manicured, letting them grow longer than Sister Aloysius would want.

"And, as Sister Aloysius discovers, he has been assigned to three different parishes in the last five years [Humm .. . now I wonder: 3 parishes in 5 years, you say? Oh my goodness! Who should that remind us of? And not so many months ago? :) ]."

Folks, it just keeps getting better!

To read the whole fascinating movie review, just click on this website:


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