Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams
Sister Aloysius: Candy…
Sister James: Cough drops.
Sister Aloysius: Candy…by another name.
When a teacher at a Catholic school, Sister James (Adams), observes some odd behavior from one of her students, as well as from Father Flynn (Hoffman), who has taken a special interest in the boy, she reports it to the head nun, Sister Aloysius (Streep). Sister Aloysius does everything she can to unveil whatever wrongdoing may have occurred.
This film got a lot of attention at Oscar time for the performances by the 3 main leads. I agree that 2 out of 3 of them were deserving. Streep and Hoffman are both great, while Adams, though not bad by any means, seemed a little one note and not as believable. It might have more to do with the character than the acting, but either way, she didn’t interest me as much as the other two.
The story is an uncomfortable one, involving a possible improper relationship between a Catholic priest and an altar boy, and the movie dances all around the topic without ever getting into specifics. I guess that might be a product of it being set in 1964. Perhaps people back then wouldn’t talk directly about such things, especially in a church setting, but it still seemed like the movie was holding back a little considering the serious nature of the subject matter.
As horrible a subject as it is, the story alone isn’t all that compelling. It’s the scenes between Streep and Hoffman that really drive the movie. Despite them, though, the movie loses a little steam at the very end. It seemed like it was building toward something bigger, but I guess it wouldn’t be true to life to have a big over-dramatic ending. People move on, run away from their problems instead of facing them, and leave a wake of discontent in their past.
I liked the movie, and would recommend checking it out for the performances, but it seemed like it was a lighter movie than the subject matter would suggest it be. Maybe it needed to be lighter in order to have more commercial appeal, but I think by doing that, it lost some of the potential emotional impact.
Nuns are a tricky lot.
10 – 1.1 for being a little too light for the subject matter – 1.3 for seeming to leave a few things unresolved – .3 for a lackluster ending + .1 for the 2 lead performances = 7.4