(John Patrick Shanley, 2008)
Review by Gary Tooze
Region: 'A' - locked
Disc Size: 40,637,714,619 bytes
Feature Size: 27,915,171,840 bytes
Average Bitrate: 35.82 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 7th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3596 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3596 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English, Basa, French, Korean, Malayalam, Mandingo, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, none
•Audio commentary with John Patrick Shanley
•From Stage to Screen - John Patrick Shanley, Meryl Streep and Sister Margaret McEntee discusses the history of the film, inspirations for the story, and adapting the acclaimed play to film (19:09 in HD!)
• The Cast of Doubt (13:53 in HD!)
• The Sisters of Charity (6:29 in HD!)
• Scoring Doubt (4:39 in HD!)
Description: From Miramax Films comes one of the most honored and acclaimed motion pictures of the year, Doubt. Based on the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play, Doubt is a mesmerizing, suspense-filled drama with four riveting performances from Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis that will have you pinned to the edge of your seat. Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Streep), the rigid and fear-inspiring principal of the Saint Nicholas Church School, suffers an extreme dislike for the progressive and popular parish priest Father Flynn (Hoffman). Looking for wrongdoing in every corner, Sister Aloysius believes she's uncovered the ultimate sin when she hears Father Flynn has taken a special interest in a troubled boy. But without proof, the only thing certain is doubt. Nominated for 5 Golden Globes and 6 Critics' Choice awards, there is no Doubt it is "One of the best pictures of the year," (USA Today, Rolling Stone, New York Post, San Francisco Examiner, Roger Ebert).
It's 1964, St. Nicholas in the Bronx. A vibrant, charismatic priest, Father Flynn, is trying to upend the school's strict customs, which have long been fiercely guarded by Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the iron-gloved Principal who believes in the power of fear and discipline. The winds of political change are sweeping through the country, and, indeed, the school has just accepted its first black student, Donald Miller. But when Sister James, a hopeful innocent, shares with Sister Aloysius her suspicion that Father Flynn is paying too much personal attention to Donald, Sister Aloysius is galvanized to begin a crusade to both unearth the truth and expunge Flynn from the school. Now, without a shred of proof or evidence except her moral certainty, Sister Aloysius locks into a battle of wills with Father Flynn, a battle that threatens to tear apart the Church and school with devastating consequences.
A Catholic grade school could seem like a hermetically sealed world in 1964. That's the case with St. Nicholas in the Bronx, ruled by the pathologically severe principal Sister Aloysius, who keeps the students and nuns under her thumb and is engaged in an undeclared war with the new parish priest. Their issues may seem to center around the reforms of Vatican II, then still under way, with Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) as the progressive, but for the nun I believe it's more of a power struggle. The pope's infallibility seems, in her case, to have descended to the parish level.
Doubt. It is the subject of the sermon Father Flynn opens the film with. Doubt was coming into the church and the United States in 1964. Would you still go to hell if you ate meat on Friday? After the assassination of Kennedy and the beginnings of Vietnam, doubt had undermined American certainty in general. What could you be sure of? What were the circumstances? The motives? The conflict between Aloysius and Flynn is the conflict between old and new, between status and change, between infallibility and uncertainty. And Shanley leaves us doubting. I know people who are absolutely certain what conclusion they should draw from this film. They disagree. "Doubt" has exact and merciless writing, powerful performances and timeless relevance. It causes us to start thinking with the first shot, and we never stop. Think how rare that is in a film.Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE
The image quality balances nicely between the readily visible grain and precise detail as seen in close-ups and outdoor sequences. Contrast is a hallmark with deep rich black levels displaying the subtleties of shadow detail. Pastel colors give a accurate sense of the early 60's time-frame. This Blu-ray has a very strong film-like feel supporting Roger Deakins', often inventive, cinematography. This is not a glossy effect-driven production but detail exists. Aside from, what could be, some very minor edge-enhancement I have no complaints whatsoever with the appearance of Doubt in high-definition. This Blu-ray looks quite magnificent and seems faithful to the filmmaker's intent.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Aside from Church organ music, some singing and a couple of birds chirping there is not much to test the rock solid DTS-HD Master Audio in 3596 kbps. Dialogue is crystal clear and tight - perfectly balanced with the healthy empty pauses and Doubt has no extensive range for the Surround system to dramatically kick-in. There are 2 foreign language DUBs, the commentary is in stereo and a host of subtitle options but it has been reported as being region 'A' - locked as opposed to FREE. I can confirm - this is region-locked.
Director/writer John Patrick Shanley has a relaxed speaking manner and can relate some valuable details in his feature-length commentary as he reflects back on his experiences and the stage play prior to the production of this film. There are gaps and he certainly appears to be doing it off-the-cuff. There are some featurettes - all in HD - From Stage to Screen has Shanley, Meryl Streep and Sister Margaret McEntee discussing the history of the film, inspirations for the story, and adapting the acclaimed play to film. It runs about 20-minutes. The Cast of Doubt runs 15-minutes and has Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger hosting a relaxed conversation with Streep, Adams, Hoffman and Viola Davis. The Sisters of Charity talks about that order with many older sisters giving input. Scoring Doubt is about the music of the film and runs less than 5 minutes. There are preview trailers and I wasn't keen on the 'You don't always Die From Tobacco' segment forcibly running prior to the film.
March 28th, 2009
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player
Gary W. Tooze