It’s about a Catholic church and school in the Bronx in 1964. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the priest of the church, while Meryl Streep is a nun and the school’s very strict principal. Amy Adams is a naive nun and teacher of the eighth grade.
The movie begins by setting up each character: Streep as a strict principal who knows all the tricks in the school kids’ books. Adams and an innocent teacher who always looks on the bright side and sees the good in everything/one. Hoffman as the priest who is trying to “modernize” the Catholic church a little to make it more accessible.
The drama start when Streep’s character tells all the nun’s to be on the lookout for weirdness from the priest. She lets on that she’s rather suspicious of him. One day, when the school’s first black student (this was right after integration) gets called to the priest’s office and comes back to class acting dismayed and smelling of alcohol, Adam’s character suspects the priest may be taking advantage of an already vulnerable boy.
She informs the principal, Streep, who makes it her life’s duty from then on to rid the school of Hoffman’s priest. She will NOT stand for anyone of power, especially religious power, to take advantage of a student, especially one who is already scared and therefore be easy to prey on.
It’s a great movie with some tense scenes. It calls into question the notion of stepping away from God in order to do what you believe is right.
In the end, there’s no definitive answer as to whether Hoffman’s character was just protecting the boy or taking advantage of him. It’s left to the viewer to decide whether you Doubt his character or not.
(See what I did there?)
I totally recommend this. It’s not a date movie or anything like that. Sean didn’t much care for it. But it can really get you thinking.
And in my opinion, I don’t think Hoffman’s character had an inappropriate relationship with the boy. I honestly think he was trying to protect him from potential bullying since he was the first black student after integration. I think he left the church in the end not because he was guilty, but because he knew he couldn’t win over Streep’s character’s power and influence.