Directed John Patrick Shanley
A nun suspects a priest of molesting a boy in 1964 New York.
Doubt is “a filmed play that feels like exactly that,” said Dana Stevens in Slate.com. Director John Patrick Shanley “makes all the classic stage-to-screen mistakes” in adapting his own Tony- and Pulitzer-winning play. Doubt unfolds in 1964, when a stern Catholic nun and school principal (Meryl Streep) suspects a progressive priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) of molesting a male student. Hoping to open up his spare four-person show, Shanley adds unnecessary new characters, sets scenes in various public places for no reason in particular, and “hammers home thematic points with overly neat visual reinforcements.” Such cinematic flourishes only reinforce Doubt’s theatrical nature and “reduce the story’s moral intensity,” said Wesley Morris in The Boston Globe. On the stage, Doubt is an incendiary story about faith and propriety, but Shanley “doesn’t trust the pure tension of his tale to absorb us.” Despite this adaptation’s failings, the “richness and thematic breadth of the material” remain compelling, said Scott Tobias in The Onion. A troubling examination of faith, justice, and change, Doubt “deserves the wider exposure.”