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Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams
"Doubt," is a grabber of a movie from start to finish. The first time I saw Meryl Streep was in Kramer v. Kramer, 30 years ago or so when the movie came out. That was a memorable performance as was "Sophie's Choice." "Doubt" offers an equally great performance by Streep, in my opinion, although one critic called her performance as a villanous nun/school principal who makes Lady Macbeth look like a lamb, "camp" and "over the top." I don't agree because I know people of whom the Streep character reminds me. She captured their essence wonderfully.
The Philip Seymour Hoffman character, Father Flynn, was accused by Sister Aloysius, the Streep character, of "inappropriate advances" toward a student being bullied by other students. Hoffman matched Streep's performance blow for blow. Amy Adams, a fresh face, to me at least, played a young nun/teacher at the Catholic junior high school who was caught in the middle between Father Flynn and the tyrannical Sister Aloysius. Viola Davis played the mother of the boy who was the object of Father Flynn's attention and affection in a powerful scene when she was confronted by Streep matched her all the way.
The essence and strength of the movie was conveyed by it's title, "Doubt." Without revealing the ending, suffice it to say that the movie conveyed the moral ambiguities in the situation in which the five characters found themselves. All did a tremendous job.
Streep can convey more with her eyes and mouth than most actors with their voice and entire bodies. Hoffman approached Streep's virtuosity as did Viola Davis. Amy Adams captured perfectly the dilemma of a young nun trapped between the Streep and Hoffman characters locked in mortal combat. "Doubt" is a must see movie for Streep, Hoffman and Viola Davis fans and for anyone who followed the issue of pedophile priests with interest and concern. One could write a long essay or even a book about the meaning of the title and the intent of the play;s author, John Patrick Shanley, who wrote the prize-winning stage play and directed the movie.
I give it four thumbs up and I'll be surprised if it doesn't get several Oscar nominations.