It is rare that the subtle intensity of a good theatrical production is translated effectively onto the silver screen, yet John Patrick Shanley’s film adaptation of Doubt arguably equals, and quite possibly surpasses, the play upon which it is based.
This can be almost, but not entirely, credited to the four leading actors – Meryl Streep (Sister Aloysius), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Father Flynn), Amy Adams (Sister James) and Viola Davis (Mrs Miller). Not only do they all fit their roles seamlessly, but their interaction with each other is close to perfect. Undoubtedly Streep’s performance is electrifying to watch, but her character is somewhat larger when put in direct comparison with the meek Sister James.
Similarly, her contrast with Father Flynn only emphasises her own strong character- their final confrontation is almost frightening to watch. The editing of the film emphasises this difference between the traditional ascetic lives the nuns lead, and the more reckless, social side that Father Flynn chooses- Doubt also makes a very clear reference to the authority and power enjoyed by the male hierarchy of the Church, and how unashamedly corrupt some parts of it can be.
Out of all the cast, I personally found Viola Davis’ relatively brief portrayal of Donald’s mother to be absolutely spellbinding. Every word she said was so real; whenever she was on screen I could not take my eyes off her.  It is hardly surprising, then, that every member of the cast of Doubt received an Oscar nomination this year, and yet the film didn’t. But despite it being undeniably carried along by the cast, there is a lot to be said for the cinemaphotography of Roger Deakins – not only are there certain scenes which are so well-arranged they look almost like paintings, but there is an exquisite attention to detail. From the rich green of Sister Aloysius’ office to the stark whiteness of the snow against black in the final scene, colour is used so well that one wonders why more films don’t follow Dewakins’ example.
Doubt deals with so many issues that are still relevant today- race, religion, the power figures of authority hold over the young and innocent, forbidden homosexuality, and maybe most prevalent of all, the role of women.
The film does at times drag a little, and it feels a little repetitive, but it’s many redeeming features make is a thoroughly worthwile watch. But be prepared, it’s in now way light-hearted and during the last scene, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.