Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams leave you with shadows of Doubt.
DOUBT directed by John Patrick Shanley, adapted by Shanley from his play, with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. A Miramax release. 122 minutes. Opens Friday (December 12). See movies. Rating: NNN
The aptly named Doubt, adapted from director John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play, is a clever piece of writing - you walk out of the film wholly unsure of the truth.
Meryl Streep plays the principal of a Catholic school in the early 60s, who suspects the new priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) of diddling the only black male student. At first, she appears to have nothing to go on, but Father Flynn, though he does protest, says or does nothing to allay her - and our - fears.
Streep again shows awesome technique, and Amy Adams, as her hopelessly torn underling, is also very good. There's a dazzling scene featuring Viola Davis as the mother of the possible victim. But Hoffman steals the film, playing the enigmatic Father as nearly impossible to read.
Shanley opens the play up by setting scenes in the church courtyard or on the sidewalks of busy streets. But that strategy backfires - the story needs the play's claustrophobic atmosphere.
Maybe that, and the obviously crafty writing, is why the film seems to lack an emotional core.