DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


John Patrick Shanley
Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis, Alice Drummond, Audrie J. Neenan, Susan Blommaert, Carrie Preston
Writing Credits:
John Patrick Shanley

A Catholic school principal questions a priest's ambiguous relationship with a troubled young student.

Box Office:
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$507.226 thousand on 15 screens.
Domestic Gross
$33.337 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Closed-captioned Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 4/26/2011

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director John Patrick Shanley
• “From Stage to Screen” Featurette
• “The Cast of Doubt” Featurette
• “Scoring Doubt” Featurette
• “The Sisters of Charity” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Doubt [Blu-Ray] (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 27, 2016)

Funny how memory plays tricks at times. When 2008’s Doubt arrived on my desk, I remembered it as one of the year’s five Best Picture nominees.

Nope! It received a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay, and it also got tons of acting love, as four of its performers earned nods in that realm.

But Doubt came up empty in the Best Picture category, which may have been a shame, as the film proves more satisfying than some of the mediocrities that did get nominations. Doubt takes us to the Bronx circa 1964. We meet the folks who run the school at St. Nicholas Church, a group that includes Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) and Sister James (Amy Adams). Father Flynn is the new parish priest, while Sister Aloysius runs the school’s day to day operations – and does so with an iron hand.

Sister James teaches eighth grade and runs into a concern with one of her students. She notices that Donald Miller (Joseph Foster II) – the sole African-American student in the class – acts strangely after a private meeting with Father Flynn. Sister James brings this to the attention of Sister Aloysius, and the elder nun launches an investigation of the priest’s actions. We follow these events and their impact on both the church and those involved.

With Doubt, John Patrick Shanley adapts his own stage play for the screen, and he does so in a mostly successful manner. At no point does the film ever become a dynamic cinematic affair, but that’s appropriate; if Shanley went to pains to make this a Big Screen Movie, then he’d betray the scope of the source material. In essence, this is a small character drama, so a broad interpretation wouldn’t make sense.

Because the film stays focused on its characters, the actors come to the forefront, and all involved do well. Streep makes Sister Aloysius an interesting twist on the usual “Nunzilla”. It would be very easy to turn her into a stereotypical prudish, stern beast, but Streep veers away from that reading. Sure, we sense that Sister Aloysius is a force to reckon with, but Streep adds compassion and even mild humor to the part.

On the somewhat negative side, Sister Aloysius emerges as the only genuinely three-dimensional character in the bunch. Father Flynn is too slippery to really grasp, and Sister James acts more as a plot device than as a true character. To be sure, Hoffman and Adams do well in their roles, but neither gets a whole lot with which to work.

That’s because Doubt remains Sister Aloysius’s show, for better or for worse. Her investigation gives the film a good narrative thrust, and it allows for events to unfold in an interesting manner.

However, we see things so firmly from her point of view that the “doubt” indicated in the film’s title becomes minimized. I don’t want to say too much about the movie’s events because I like to avoid spoilers, but the story definitely leaves me with a strong impression of the “truth”.

To the filmmakers’ credit, they never spell out what occurred between Father Flynn and Donald, and the reality of their situation clearly remains up for grabs. Is Father Flynn a perv who takes advantage of his young charges, or is Sister Aloysius just an uptight conservative who resents the progressive change Father Flynn represents?

That’s a good post-movie discussion topic, but I think the flick leans too far in one direction. The ending opens up some question, but not enough, in my opinion; I come away with a clear interpretation of what happened between Donald and Father Flynn. I could be wrong, but I think the movie does lead us much more strongly down one path than another.

Despite that misstep and a few others - such as some cheap metaphors - Doubt usually succeeds. It creates a dynamic character drama enlivened by stellar performances and its lack of excessive exposition. At 103 minutes, the movie also knows better than to overstay its welcome, so expect a tight, involving tale.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Doubt appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie wasn’t exactly a visual showcase, but the image looked good.

Sharpness was fine. A handful of wide shots showed a smidgen of softness, but nothing problematic. Most of the time the movie offered solid delineation. I noticed no jaggies or shimmering, and source flaws remained absent. Edge haloes and digital noise reduction also failed to cause concerns.

Colors tended to look appropriate. The movie featured a low-key “period” palette – with a strong teal tint much of the time - within which the hues appeared concise. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows smooth, as low-light shots showed clear delineation. The transfer represented the film well.

To my surprise, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Doubt packed a little more punch than expected. Most of the movie focused on general ambience. The front and rears speakers added a decent sense of place, and a few louder elements like thunder and other storms occasionally added a little zest to the proceedings.

Music also boasted nice stereo delineation. The film’s scope remained limited, so we didn’t get much to make the mix stand out from the crowd, but I heard more activity than I anticipated from a character drama of this sort.

Audio quality appeared fine. Speech showed good delineation and clarity, as the lines remained natural. Effects offered acceptable accuracy and life, and they appeared pretty powerful in the smattering of louder scenes. Music worked well, as the score seemed rich and full. Nothing here turned this into a great mix, but it deserved a “B”.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD release? Audio showed more oomph, and visuals offered improved clarity and smoothness. I thought the Blu-ray gave us the expected step up in quality.

The Blu-ray duplicates the DVD’s extras, and we open with an audio commentary from writer/director John Patrick Shanley. He provides a running, screen-specific look at story and character issues, Shanley’s childhood experiences and their influence on the film, cast and performances, sets and locations, camerawork and visual choices, and a few other production topics.

Shanley creates a thoroughly engaging discussion here. At the start, I worried he’d reminisce about his childhood to the exclusion of all else; while those elements prove illuminating, I hoped for a balance between that side of things and actual filmmaking subjects.

Happily, as the track progresses, Shanley grows more expansive when it comes to the flick’s creation. He gives us a lot of good tales about the movie; I especially like his reflections about working with the actors, as he throws out quite a few intriguing notes in that realm. Shanley creates a likable and informative chat that covers Doubt well.

Four featurettes follow. From Stage to Screen goes for 19 minutes, nine seconds and includes comments from Shanley, technical consultant Sister “James” Margaret McEntee, production designer David Gropman, and actors Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, and Amy Adams. We learn about the play’s origins and inspirations, the source material and its adaptation into a screenplay, shooting in New York, cast and performances.

Based on the featurette’s title, I expected more about the script and story here. We learn a little about those, but both subjects are covered much better in Shanley’s commentary. “Stage” offers a smattering of new details, but it mostly throws out happy talk about the production. It’s watchable but not especially informative.

During the 13-minute, 53-second The Cast of Doubt, we get a panel discussion conducted by Entertainment Weekly’s Dave Karger. He sits with Davis, Adams, Streep and Hoffman as they discuss thoughts about the original play, the characters and their performances, and interpretations of the story’s events.

I like the context of the piece, as it’s cool to see all four of the actors chat together. Inevitably, there’s a fair amount of the standard general positivity, but the program digs pretty deeply at times, and the participants provide quite a few interesting notes.

Scoring Doubt fills four minutes, 40 seconds with notes from Shanley and composer Howard Shore. As expected, this show looks at the movie’s music. It’s too short to provide much depth, but it offers a few decent insights into the score.

Finally, The Sisters of Charity lasts six minutes, 29 seconds and features Shanley, Streep, McEntee, and nuns Sister Irene Fugazi, Sister Mary McCormick and Sister Rita King. We learn a bit about the nuns’ lives, and that gives us a nice perspective on their presentation in the movie.

The disc opens with ads for Lost, The Proposal and Miramax Films. No trailer for Doubt appears here.

Doubt makes a successful move from the stage to the big screen. The movie suffers from a few flaws, but it packs a punch and keeps us involved. The Blu-ray delivers good picture and audio as well as supplements highlighted by an informative commentary. I find this to be a quality Blu-ray for a stimulating movie.

To rate this film visit the prior review of DOUBT

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main