DVD: Doubt (15)

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The Independent Culture

Set in early 1960s New York, this is a sombre account of a priest accused of child abuse who is hounded out of his parish by Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), the dragon-like headmistress of the local Catholic school.

She is convinced that Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is coming on too strong with one of her charges, the school's first black student. The movie comes to a head with a dramatic and highly emotional spat between the two central characters, which is unfortunately set against the rather hammy backdrop of thunder and lightning. In spite of this, you can't help being won over by Hoffman in an unnervingly creepy role, as well as the newcomer Amy Adams, who picked up an Oscar nomination for her part as Sister James.

While Streep is blessed with some of the most poetic lines of what turns out to be a beautiful script, you just can't escape from the feeling that she's trying a little too hard. Extras include a set of thought-provoking interviews with the Sisters of Charity, the order of nuns depicted in the film, and the real Sister James (who is still alive). They give a sense of just how tumultuous this decade was for the Catholic church as it attempted to deal with the pressures of ground-breaking modernisation. But they also leave you wishing that the film had delved into these issues a little bit more deeply.