West End Movie Group

Stories of our Lives

© 2011 Linda Tiessen-Wiebe Contact Me


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Doubt can be a powerful a bond as certainty.
It’s 1964, St. Nicholas in the Bronx. A vibrant, charismatic priest, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), is trying to upend the school’s strict customs, which have long been fiercely guarded by Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Street), the iron-gloved Principal who believes in the power of fear and discipline. The winds of political change are sweeping through the community, and, indeed, the school has just accepted its first black student, Donald Miller. But when Sister James (Amy Adams), a hopeful innocent, shares with Sister Aloysius her guilt-inducing suspicion that Father Flynn is paying too much personal attention to Donald, Sister Aloysius is galvanized to being a crusade to both unearth the truth and expunge Flynn from the school. Now, without a shred of proof or evidence except her moral certainty, Sister ALoysius locks into a battle of wills with Father Flynn, a battle that threatens to tear apart the church and school with devastating consequences.

See Doubt movie website


Questions For Discussion

  1. Father Flynn in his opening sermon said that doubt can be as powerful and sustaining a bond as certainty. What did he mean?

  2. What's with all the references to the wind?

  3. Sister Aloysius believed that when you take a step to address wrongdoing, you are taking a step away from God. In what way could this be true? How is it a mistaken theological assertion?

  4. Many conversations were interrupted by others wanting attention or by lights burning out. Why do you think this happened?

  5. Of what was Father Flynn guilty?

  6. What did Sister Aloysius have doubts about? Why?

  7. What were Sister Aloysius' deeper motivations when it came to defending Donald Miller?

  8. What can happen when doubt can never be erased, when we can never know for sure?

  9. What biblical stories does the movie remind you of?

  10. Which character do you most identify with? Why?

  11. Can a pedophile be also moral? Why or why not?

  12. John Patrick Stanley, the director, said: "This story allows you to experience the struggle to be certain in an uncertain world. My hope is you'll get caught up in the mystery aspect of it. And then at certain point transcend that and say, "Actually I've become more interested in other things, other than simply whether this person is guilty or innocent, whether this person is right or wrong. I've started to become more interested in questions I've had in my own heart, in my own life about being a human being on this earth and how to live and what to do and how to be effective and useful to my fellow beings." Discuss.

  13. Why do we find it hard to let go of who is right and wrong?

  14. What is God's view of Father Flynn? Sister Aloysius? Does it matter to God who is guilty, who is right and wrong?
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