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NY1 Movie Review: "Doubt"

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The Tony Award-winning play "Doubt" is now a movie that features an Oscar-winning cast, including Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Set in 1964 at a Bronx parochial school, it is the story of a priest, Father Flynn, played by Hoffman, who is being accused by the school principal, Sister Aloysius, played by Streep, of sexually inappropriate behavior with one of the students.

Sister Aloysius's suspicion's come to light when Sister James, played by Amy Adams, points out some behavior she thinks is out of the norm.

It seems that Sister Aloysius has no proof, but acts off a gut feeling. Sexual charges aside, she just doesn't care for Flynn's liberal ways and his views on how to run the school. She prefers an older style of approach and it's affecting her judgement.

What works on stage does not always translate well on film, which is often the case with "Doubt." John Patrick Shanley, who wrote the play and directed and wrote the screenplay, has difficulty with the transition. What was once an emotionally gripping experience on Broadway seems at times like an overly dramatic piece up on the big screen.

Streep, Hoffman and Adams give a different spin to the original material, although I thought that Brian F. O Byrne and Cherry Jones did a much more captivating job on stage with these characters. They pulled you in to the story and were mesmerizing to watch, while Streep and Hoffman made me very aware of the fact that they were trying to act up a storm.

Only Viola Davis, a mother of the young student who's caught up in the scandal, captures the true essence of the piece.

If you're not familiar with the play, "Doubt" has its merits. The basic story, which leaves doubts about the priest every step of the way, is still intact, but "Doubt" as a film never rises to the level of the theatrical experience.

"Doubt" opens in theaters this week.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 2 Apples

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