Editors' pick

Doubt

Doubt movie poster
MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama
Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams star in this film, based on the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play by John Patrick Shanley, about a priest accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a young African-American student at a Catholic school. Shanley directs the movie.
Starring: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis
Director: John Patrick Shanley
Running time: 1:44
'

Editorial Review

A taut, high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse drives the absorbing psychological thriller "Doubt," adapted by John Patrick Shanley from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play. What a cat and, oh, what a mouse!

Meryl Streep brings her characteristic focus and wily craft to Sister Aloysius, the steely principal of a Catholic school in the Bronx, circa 1964. When a charismatic young priest named Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) shows an interest in the newly integrated school's only black student, Sister Aloysius begins to entertain suspicions about the priest's motives, and she pursues him with all the vinegary vim and stern moral rigor at her disposal.

"Doubt," a swiftly moving series of scenes between the two main characters, as well as a sweet-natured young nun named Sister James (Amy Adams), most superficially has to do with Father Flynn's guilt or innocence. But as the story takes its increasingly surprising twists and turns, it comes to be about much more: power, spiritual discipline, institutional politics and corrupt hierarchical rot.

Just when you begin to think you know who the cat and mouse really are, in steps Viola Davis to steal not just her scene but the entire movie from Streep. As the mother of the student in question, Davis presents "Doubt" with its most sobering and finally haunting philosophical quandaries, which give even the implacable Sister Aloysius a glimpse of life beyond her own unassailable ideals.

-- Ann Hornaday (Dec. 12, 2008)

Contains thematic material.