Doubt is undoubtedly (and faithfully) worth seeing

“Doubt,” a drama about ’60s-era nuns, may not sound like the perfect bit of mid-winter escapism, but Meryl Streep’s performance as a harsh, unrelenting force of nature is both scary-good and just plain scary. Sister Aloysius (Streep) belongs to the old guard of church establishment, discouraging the students from the ungodly evils of whispering and barrette-wearing with a strict upper hand. Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a liberal-leaning priest, subscribes to a more unorthodox and light-handed approach, befriending and mentoring the children.When Aloysius is alerted by Sister James (meekly played by Amy Adams) of Flynn’s potential engagement in sexual impropriety with an altar boy, Streep finds her calling. She jumps on the case, guns blazing, determined to oust Flynn despite a complete lack of evidence.”Doubt” was originally a play written by John Patrick Shanley, who stays on as writer and director of the movie. The play was entitled “Doubt: A Parable,” and the parable is evident; the air is rife with doubt as the characters question faith, morality and their suspicions. Doubt is a constant threat to the characters’ self-perception, and this lurking suspicion is reflected in the pervasively dark cinematography and lighting.The movie succeeds at overwhelming the audience with doubt. In the aftermath of the allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in 2002, the audience is unable to ignore the nagging possibility that Flynn is guilty. The first film to address this scandal – “Doubt” keeps us on our seats, fearing whether Aloysius, though misguided, may be right about Flynn. We inherit the conflict of the film, straddling the line between what we want to believe and what we suspect.Streep’s impeccable performance makes her nun about as frightening as a nun can be, which is to say she’s absolutely terrifying. Hoffman is captivating as the idealistic priest trying to inject the hopefulness of the ’60s into the church. A decent period piece, “Doubt” at least reveals the battle between his and Aloysius’ approaches to education, mirroring the struggle between idealism and staid tradition raging on outside of the church.