Tuesday, April 7, 2009

No Doubt About It

Set in a Catholic grade school filled with secrets and lies, John Patrick Shanley's screen adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Doubt is equally filled with Triple-A (Academy Award-nominated Acting) performances.

As the ultimate Mother Superior with her own agenda, Meryl Streep digs knuckle deep into her passionate portrayal of Sister Aloysius, who suspects impropriety at the unmanicured hands of Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Naïve nun Sister James (an as-usual radiant Amy Adams) inadvertently provides the Big Sister with the ammunition she needs (wants?) to oust the good (?) father when she calls into question his seemingly innocent attentions to the school's first and only black male student. Add in to the drama the surprising revelations of the boy's mother (a heart-wrenching Viola Davis), and you have a film that offers no easy answers or pat Hollywood endings. Trust me, you'll be mulling over the moral quandaries of Doubt long after the final frame.

Luckily, now that Doubt is on on DVD and Blu-ray(as of today), you'll have the opportunity to re-watch key sequences to help you formulate your own theories and/or opinions of what may or may not have happened in that rectory. You'll also have a chance to wonder how everyone (including the Academy) fell for Miramax's supporting actor campaign for Hoffman, who is clearly a lead role here.

Bonus materials include an audio commentary by Shanley, who is also seen interviewing La Streep in the essential "From Stage to Screen" feature. Also notable among the supplements is a cast round table facilitated by Entertainment Weekly's resident Oscar expert Dave Karger, as well as a featurette on the real Sisters of Charity, including the real Sister James.

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