It's 1964 and in the Bronx's St Nicholas Catholic School change is slowly coming, much to the consternation of the principal, Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep). Although the school has recently taken on its first black student, Donald Miller (Joseph Foster), Sister Aloysius's fears the social change sweeping the country, anticipating a lapse in the church's moral values. Standing opposed to her strict adherence to traditional values is Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a popular, vibrant younger priest whose open-minded sermons soon anger the shrewish principal. When Sister Aloysius observes Flynn's closeness to their new pupil, she instructs naïve young nun Sister James (Amy Adams) to watch the priest's every move, and it's not long before he is accused of inappropriate behaviour. Appalled at the allegations which seem to be based on nothing more than Sister Aloysius's intuition, Flynn fights back as Sister James becomes caught in the middle of a moral battle that will define the future of the institution.
Based on the Tony award-winning play Doubt: A Parable, this film adaptation features tour de force performances from leads Hoffman, Streep and Adams, who all received Oscar nominations for their work.
Also nominated was Viola Davis who, in a relatively small role as Donald's mother, leaves an even greater impression than her well-established co-stars. Helmed by John Patrick Shanley, who also wrote the original play and adapted it for the screen, the moral minefield at the heart of the piece is played out with increasingly gripping implications, the director bringing a stage sensibility to the intensity of the performances, but also enough film-making flair to prevent the dialogue-heavy movie from becoming too dour.
Heavily nominated in the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and BAFTAS, but sadly denied any gongs, don't miss out on the opportunity to catch up with an award ceremony underdog, a beautifully acted, thought-provoking and thoroughly absorbing drama that intelligently explores some extremely pertinent themes.