For the second weekend in a row, I saw a movie at the Spectrum Theatre, this time alone. The wife and I developed a system whereby one of us goes to the movies on Saturday and the other on Sunday. I went Saturday; unfortunately, Carol fell ill on Sunday, so she won’t see it until Super Bowl Sunday.

Doubt is set in New York City in 1964, the year after JFK. Just the visage of the Catholic school’s old-line principal, Sister Beauvier (Meryl Streep), will bring fear into the hearts of some of the lapsed Catholics of a certain age that I know. She seems to have developed some suspicions about the trying-to-be-modern parish priest, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and she ends up in a power struggle with him.

This a very well-acted movie, as one would expect with actors of this caliber. This movie represents Streep’s 15th Oscar nomination, though she hasn’t won since 1982. Hoffman was nominated twice before, winning once. This is Amy Adams’ second nomination and Viola Davis’ first. Adams in particular is the sweetest nun since Sally Field played Sister Bertrille in The Flying Nun.

As it is based on award-winning stage play, there is some great dialogue. I particularly liked the sermons offered as not so subtle messages.

And yet…there was something about it that is at arm’s length. Perhaps it was too stagy, that the adaptation did not fully take in the differences that cinema requires. Though I never saw the play, I can imagine this same scene-chewing dialogue produced on stage, quite possibly to greater effect. There were powerful themes and yet I never quite got caught up in them. It’s not unlike abstract art or avant-garde jazz you believe has been well crafted but just does not engage you.

I do recommend Doubt. Maybe it will take you away in a manner that I did not experience.

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