Monday, November 18, 2013

Doubt

Here's a post I've been adding to everyday for a few days, hopefully it makes sense!

So Ben and I watched the movie Doubt and it was fantastic. It epitomized a lot of what I feel. Not on it's most superficial level. Simply put: it's about a nun who suspects a priest of having an inappropriate relationship with a boy and it's all about her expression of absolute surety that he is guilty- she has no doubt. So I've never experienced that but there are things that can be pulled from the story.  

I love how they portray this woman. Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Yeah, I had to copy and paste it) is a nun and she's old school. She's played by Meryl Streep so you know it's done right and she demands action, discipline and rules with an iron fist. The juxtaposition between her and and Sister James, a young nun who also plays a large role in the movie, is hilarious and pointed. One character represents experience while the other represents "faith". I hesitate to use the word faith because our minds may go to an idea where faith is knowing something despite a lack of tangible evidence. The kind of faith that I'm talking about it believing something because it fits into our definition of "correct". 

For example: The timid red headed nun tries to rule her class with quiet instruction and trust, forgetting that she is in charge of a room full of kids. Sister Aloysius attempts to teach her a few tricks (putting a framed picture of the pope on the chalkboard so that she can look at the reflection and see what's going on behind her) and Sister James finds herself struggling to be demanding but loving. 

The director does a great job of showing that while Sister Aloysius is stubborn she is also caring. She secretly knows that one of the other nuns is going blind but keeps this a secret as the woman will be turned away if she's discovered. So see Sister Aloysius guide the poor nun's hand to locate utensils that are otherwise impossible for her to see. Despite being stern, Sister Aloysius is caring and smart with the issues in front of her.

*From here on out there may be major spoilers so you may want to watch the movie first!*

When Sister James is given reason to believe that Father Flynn has been inappropriate with one of the boys at the school she consults Sister Aloysius.The allegation is then taken to Father Flynn who not only denies the idea but gives an alternative explanation. Sister James is appeased, but Sister Aloysius is not. She continues to press and in a discussion between the two of them the idea that I was trying to express about faith comes out:

Sister James: I don't think Father Flynn did anything wrong.
Sister Aloysius Beauvier: You just want things to be resolved so you can have simplicity back.

I love it. She chances being wrong but that's not the point. She won't find out that she's wrong just because it's easier. If she's wrong she wants to know that she did everything she could to find out that she was wrong. No easy answers. 

I could go on and on about this and about a scene where Sister Aloysius is talking to the little boys mother but that's a different matter and this is already getting long.

So then there is the scene that breaks your heart *DEFINITE SPOILER ALERT*

In the final scene (when you already know that Sister Aloysius has been proven right) Sister James and Sister Aloysius have a very important conversation. Sister James asks if Sister Aloysius has proven his guilt and receives the answer that she has.  They discuss that not only has Father Flynn been moved but he's been promoted. Despite what they discovered about him he has moved up in the church. And After an entire movie about conviction, lack of doubt and absolute confidence Sister Aloysius breaks down into tears:

Sister Aloysius: Sister James...
Sister James: What is it, Sister?
Sister Aloysius: [crying] I have doubts. I have such doubts.

And you can feel her doubts in humanity stream out with her tears. A woman who has devoted herself to God and His church finds herself doubting what it is that she's devoted herself to as an establishment run by fallible men. How interesting.