With Doubt, acclaimed writer John Patrick Shanley brings his Pullitzer prize winning play to the big screen. And although the film doesn’t make a completely smooth transition from the stage to motion picture, the film will no doubt (no pun intended) get a number of oscar nominations for it’s riveting performances.
Doubt tells the story of a Catholic school in the Bronx in which a younger priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has come under suspicion by a tyrannical nun (Meryl Streep) after she has become aware of the priest taking a liking to the school’s first black student. This sets off a series of engrossing confrontations between the two actors as well as Amy Adams who also gives a respectable performance as another one of the school’s nuns.
I really enjoyed seeing Hoffman and Streep go toe to toe in the few scenes they have with each other, as they both are in fine form here. But I also enjoyed much of the quieter scenes in which we are able to see the inner workings of this Catholic school and the very traditional way in which it is run. And the idea of changing times and ideals of the early sixties in which the film takes place works as a great counterpoint for the story. I also should note that I wouldn’t be surprised if Viola Davis got an award nomination despite being in only one scene, because she certainly makes it a powerful one.
However, there were certainly moments when Doubt felt like it would’ve worked a little better on stage than on film. I’m sure Shanley could’ve rewritten some of the play to work a little better as movie, but I still found it pretty engrossing for the most part. The only other quibble I’d say would be that the story isn’t quite as profound as a one would like a morality tale like this be, but it still raises a few somewhat thought-provoking ideas.
So all in all, Doubt isn’t quite the awards contender it wants to be but is still a fairly interesting story. And if you want to see two of Hollywood’s finest actors at the top of their game as well as some noteworthy supporting performances I’d say Doubt is worth checking out.