Doubt Review

There is a dinner scene in Doubt that perfectly conveys the differences between the nuns and priests within St. Nicholas elementary school.

The nuns are terrified, quiet, and unable to say a word. They are powerless to stop Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), an angry, spiteful nun. There is no respect, just fear.

This contrasts with the priests, who are laughing, yelling, smoking, and enjoying their meal. With an edit, the audience is taken back to the nuns, where Sister James (Amy Adams) spits out a bad piece of meat. Considered improper, Sister James looks at Beauvier who delivers a stern, dirty look. Defeated, James puts it back in her mouth and swallows hard.

It’s a turning point in the film, where the audience knows Sister Aloysius is not just a mean, strict nun, but one stuck in the past while the world around her is changing. While at times Streep’s performance is questionable (even harsh nuns smile sometimes), the audience feels the same tension experienced by the characters whenever she walks in the room.

She has her eyes on Father Flynn, new to the parish. He has taken a shine to an outcast black boy, a shine she suspects is more than just a casual relationship. Her fears, at least for much of the film, are unfounded. They stem from what, in her eyes, is rebellious behavior, such as Flynn using a ballpoint pen and believing Frosty the Snowman is an adequate Christmas song (it contains pagan magic references, you see).

Doubt is a contained film, but smartly so. Its characters, their purpose, and their roles in this story are all clearly defined. The mystery, that of whether or not Father Flynn did the unthinkable, builds slowly with a wonderful sense of tension or fear. John Patrick Shanley directs (and writes) without a wasted scene. Everything serves a purpose, and while he has the knack for being overdramatic (a thunderstorm during a particularly tense argument is too much), scenes are generally within the needed tone.

An ambiguous ending here is appropriate, simply because of how the information is delivered within the film. You are given the same details involved in the events as the characters who suspect a crime, coming to your own conclusion leaving the audience with the title: Doubt.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

doubt

Doubt comes with a fine AVC encode, one that is wonderfully clean, sharp, detailed, and clear. Color is intentionally muted, although well saturated when needed. Black levels are strong, creating a convincing image depth. Contrast holds firm, bright without washing out detail. Shadow delineation is fine.

Some edging is visible on an irregular basis, typically not a distraction. Detail drops are noted, partially due to intentional lighting choices, and other times the transfer not holding up.

Video ★★★★☆ 

Rather obviously, Doubt is dialogue driven, leaving little to discuss in terms of audio. Two thunderstorms are under whelming, with limited sound coming from the rears. Most is contained in the stereo channels. Bass is non-existent. Dialogue is mixed well at an appropriate volume.

Audio ★★★☆☆ 

Extras include a dry but informative commentary from writer/director John Patrick Shanley, and a series of four featurettes. The latter run around 45 minutes combined, delivering what you expect. However, one interviews four nuns who were present during the changes to the Catholic church a presented in the film, and is informative for those outside of the religion.

Extras ★★★☆☆ 

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