"DOUBT" has been released on blu-ray and dvd by BUENA VISTA. It should not be missed!!! Writer/Director John Patrick Shanley has adapted his hit play to screen, and it's close to being a masterpiece. Set in 1964, at the Saint Nicholas School in the Bronx, "doubt" and "personal certainty" come into conflict when Sister Aloysius, the school Principal, accuses Father Flynn, the school's priest, of an inappropriate sexual relationship with the school's first black student, a young boy named Donald. There are many doubts raised about this accusation, as it's no secret that Conservative Sister Aloysius has disdain for Flynn's "post-Vatican 2" liberal leanings and teachings. But, there are various facts that keep coming to surface during the sister's inquiry, troubling Flynn's initial defenders, as well as the viewer. Shanley's brilliant script doesn't rely on making things too obvious or certain, and there will certainly be debate between viewers as to the "truth" to the accusation, even when the film's concluded. But, that's part of the beauty of this great work. Meryl Streep, again, demonstrates why she's still the kind of actress that all the younger stars need to measure up to. She commands the screen without a word! She's just outstanding. Amy Adams is quite good, but Philip Seymour Hoffman goes head to head with Steep and holds his own,...not an easy task!
Shanley has opened the film up quite a bit from its stage production, and the natural elements play an important role in doing so. Streep constantly shutting windows, protecting the school from the rain or wind, has a sense of reality that couldn't have the same impact on stage. While a few "outdoor" scenes prevent the film from ever feeling claustrophobic, even without these exterior shots, "DOUBT" never drags. In fact, it's often tense, and always captivating, as the viewer is swept up by the performances and weight of the brilliant dialogue spoken. In one brilliant example of what Shanley managed to do differentiating his play for film, while and arguably improving it, Flynn's speech about gossip, comes with a visual retelling of his parable, that couldn't be matched onstage.
BUENA VISTA has provided the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray release. While colors are never vibrant, the image is never dull. Shanley's production design calls for great contrast, so the black and white costuming helps create stunning imagery! The hues, while subdued, come across as completely natural, especially considering the season depicted onscreen. Detail is exquisite throughout. Inky blacks provide stunning resolution, regardless of how dark a given scene might be.
BUENA VISTA has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix for this release. While the spoken word carries a great deal of importance to "DOUBT," even the less vocal subtleties of characters' sighs as well as the environment, create great impact to scenes. So, it's suprising to find how immersive the lossy mix is! While not bombastic or aggressive, wind, rain, music, and the clarity of distinctive voices culminate in a terrific mix from beginning to end. There's nothing "stagey" about "DOUBT." This mix sounds incredible and creative, and while not "reference quality," it's certainly ranking up there with the better DTS-HD mixes avaialable.
BUENA VISTA has provided the same extras found on the dvd, only in HD, here. The audio commentary with Shanley is not to be missed! It's one of the most insightful, educational, entertaining commentaries ever created! He offers plenty of info about the difference between the play and film, production tidbits and more, without providing the simple, easy to explain clarity to questions most viewers will have.
The featurettes vary in entertainment quality, however, "FROM STAGE TO SCREEN" is the best and will captivate the viewer.
Trailers in full HD are provided.