“Doubt” arrived on DVD and Blu-ray™ Hi-Def on April 7, 2009.
The critically acclaimed movie Doubt is the recipient of five 2009 Academy Award® nominations and was on over 50 top 10 lists, but its popular reception was lackluster netting $33,446,470 in four months.
Doubt is another one of those “critically acclaimed” movies that is just too political for my tastes. Although the performances are excellent, especially Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius, the story is not that revetting.
Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is the new priest at St. Nicholas Church and school in the Bronx in 1964. The movie opens with the charismatic and “progressive” Father Flynn preaching a sermon on doubt. Father Flynn wants to change things at St. Nicholas. Father Flynn wants to change the Christmas pageant and he wants to change the rigid rules with more free-thinking philosophies… such as showing the boys on the basketball team how they too can have long, clean fingernails.
Father Flynn is pitted against principal Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), who keeps her students in line with old-fashioned discipline: intimidation and a sharp tongue. Young, idealistic Sister James (Amy Adams) tells Sister Aloysius she is concerned that Father Flynn has “taken an interest” in the new student, twelve-year-old Donald Miller (Joseph Foster), who is the school’s first Negro student. Father Flynn is shown calling Donald Miller in for a private conference, putting an undershirt in Donald Miller’s locker, and touching and hugging the boy. Is he comforting the boy or is there more?
Sister Aloysius believes there is more. Sister James has seen Donald Miller show some signs of some emotional distress. At first Sister James has her own doubts and suspicions about Father Flynn, but after she hears his explanations about Donald Miller drinking wine, she believes Father Flynn. Sister Aloysius does not. She is fiercely determined to protect her students from a man she believes to be a predator. She visits Donald Miller’s mother and discovers Mrs. Miller (Viola Davis) is aware her son is homosexual (1964 is before “gay” was the PC term). More than that, she is fine with the fact Father Flynn may be taking advantage of her 12-year-old boy as long as he is nice to her son.
That’s the plot: did he or didn’t he, and is Sister Aloysius morally right to be so certain Father Flynn did or will?
Why is it critically acclaimed movies often have a hidden or not-so-hidden agenda and are not very interesting? Doubt depends more on the stellar contribution of the cast and than on the entertainment value of the film. This is one movie which should have remained on the stage. Movies like Doubt can win all the awards Hollywood in all its great wisdom wants to issue. It still wasn’t that good.
Both DVD and Blu-ray Hi-Def versions of Doubt include the following bonus features:
• From Stage to Screen—An intimate discussion with playwright, screenwriter and director John Patrick Shanley about the history of Doubt, including his inspirations for the story, the acclaim the play’s Broadway run received, the Pulitzer Prize and the process of adapting it for the screen. Joining the conversation are Meryl Streep and Sister Margaret McEntee (a consultant on the film and Shanley’s former teacher).
• Scoring Doubt—Renowned composer Howard Shore discusses his inspiration for the music in the film and his collaboration with both John Patrick Shanley and producer Scott Rudin.
• The Sisters of Charity—In an insightful and lively dialogue, Meryl Streep and John Patrick Shanley discuss the interviews that Shanley did before shooting with real nuns to discuss their lives and make sure they would be accurately portrayed in the film.
• Feature Commentary with John Patrick Shanley
• The Cast of Doubt—A conversation with actors Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis.
STREET DATE: April 7, 2009
PRICING DVD US: $29.99 SRP
BD US: $34.99 SRP
Feature run time: 104 minutes
Rated: US: PG-13 (For Thematic Material)
Doubt – Critically Acclaimed, Ambiguous Reception (Movie Review)
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