Blu-ray Doubt [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray 7025313),
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A tough-as-nails Catholic school principal, Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) tries to trick a confession out of a progressive priest (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) whom she suspects of being a pedophile in this terse drama, directed by John Patrick Shanley, based on his hit stage play, set in the mid 1960s in the wake of the Kennedy assassination. There's a feeling of dread and claustrophobia in the parochial school air: the kids can't sit still and they quake in terror of being called downstairs to face Sister Aloysius's wrath. Amy Adams is the sweet-natured sister in charge of eighth grade, who first suspects Father Flynn (Hoffman) may have seduced a withdrawn African-American boy in her class. Sister Aloysius becomes convinced of the priest's guilt, but it's hard to be certain if her judgment is obscured by the change he represents or is just the result of her hardened years of experience.
Director of photography Roger Deakins brings a lived-in bleakness to the cold wintry Bronx settings: paint peeling off the rectory walls, bare trees reflected in frosty windows, wrinkled white linen, and old, wizened faces in the gloom of the actual location photography. This all contrasts impressively with the hothouse nature of the performances; when Hoffman and Streep finally go toe-to-toe, you can feel the gods of acting rise to attention. The real scene stealer here however is Viola Davis, shattering as the possibly victimized boy's hard-working mother. She even leaves Streep at a standstill, and that's saying something.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip S. Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Mary Louise Streep, Viola Davis, Amy Adams, John Costelloe
"The tension between unbending principle and the call for compassion and human understanding could scarcely be more pointedly evoked than it is here, and Davis' performance is devastatingly great..."
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Hoffman nails every nuance in a complex role. And Streep is unmissable and unforgettable....There's no doubt about this mind-bender. It'll pin you to your seat."
Ranked #8 in Rolling Stone's 'Movies Of The Year' -- "[A] stinging film..."
"[Davis] has one significant scene, but it is long, crucial and heartbreaking. Davis goes face to face with Streep with astonishing conviction..."
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Streep delivers a bravura performance....Philip Seymour Hoffman is ever bit her equal in his spectacular portrayal....DOUBT compels viewers to examine their own assumptions as they become caught up in this fascinating tale."
"Ms. Streep blows in like a storm, shaking up the story's reverential solemnity with gusts of energy and comedy."
New York Times
4 stars out of 5 -- "[F]uelled equally by anger and compassion, writer-director John Patrick Shanley's DOUBT is a terrific and troubling drama of ideas bristling with nuance and grief."
"On the stage as well as on the screen, DOUBT is a highly polished piece of business, with every speech and every action calculated for maximum effect..."
Los Angeles Times
4 stars out of 5 -- "Streep and Hoffman are superbly matched, while Adams brings a touching sincerity to her wide-eyed innocent. As fine as they are, however, it's Viola Davis who shines brightest..."
3 stars out of 5 -- "[Streep] slips something human between the gusts of piercing anger: wry grace notes written into her pursed lips and arching brow."
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Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip S. Hoffman
John Patrick Shanley
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