Doubt: A Parable Background

Doubt: A Parable Background

Doubt is a 2008 period drama written and directed by John Patrick Stanley, marking the end of an eight year hiatus from movie making for the Director who had not made a film since "Joe Versus the Volcano" in 2000. It is based on Shanley's stage play, "Doubt : A Parable" and tells the story of the first black student to be admitted to St. Nicholas' Catholic School in 1964. The school is presided over by Sister Aloysius, played by Meryl Streep, who is informed by Sister James (Amy Adams) that Father Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) seems to be paying too much attention to their new student leading to Sister Aloysius' determined search for the truth.

The film received wide critical acclaim and the four key actors - Streep, Adams, Hoffman and Viola Davis, who played the young boy's mother - were all nominated for Academy Awards. Shanley also received a Best Director nomination. The film also put together Meryl Streep and Amy Adams for the first time; their second collaboration would come a year later when the hit film "Julie and Julia" produced two more Oscar-worthy performances from them both. The film also marks the last film appearance of Helen Steinberg before her death in 2011.

As well as being lauded for the quality of its script and the dramatic performances by the main actors, Daniel S. Cutrara, in his book about sex and religion in the cinema, observed that the film is a metaphor for the general unease over priests and pedophilia worldwide, and the fact that Father Flynn resigns his post in the movie is seen as a tacit admission of guilt, Sister Aloysius representing global feeling as a whole in her crusade to find out the truth and protect the young boys in her care.

This film is also renowned for the disproportionately large number of "goofs"; for example, the street signs in the movie have black letters on a white background without cross streets. In 1964, New York City street signs had white letters on blue enamel backgrounds with the cross-streets printed in smaller letters above. Another anomaly? During one of Father Flynn's sermons, the choir are singing "Ubi Caritas" which was written by Jacques Berthier for the Taize community on 1979 - remember, the movie is set in 1964.

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