It’s no surprise when Meryl Streep turns in a powerhouse performance, but it is worth noting. So, let’s get that out of the way.
Streep is wonderful as Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the uber-strict principal of St. Nicholas Catholic School in the Bronx. The children fear her, the other nuns/schoolteachers treat her with kid gloves, and she rules St. Nicholas with iron-clad certainty. But beneath the dark robes and steely demeanor is a woman who cares deeply about her students and the church. This is clear when she begins to suspect the new parish priest of wrongdoing, and asks her nuns to stay vigilant.
It’s 1964 and St. Nicholas has just admitted its first black student, and the young man’s skin color has made him a target. The boy isn’t experiencing any real trouble, however, because Father Flyn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has taken him under his wing. But, as Father Flyn spends an increasing amount of time with the boy, Sister Aloysius becomes concerned by their relationship.
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