Doubt Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
This cover is stark, which I like. It’s also just a little tiny bit pretentious, but don’t tell anyone I said so.  The menu is standard, except is has a funny box at the top that shows you a line where you can pick any point in the movie to go to. It’s not chapters, just something like a media player on a PC..strange.

Features: 8/10

  • Doubt From Stage To Screen – The story started as a play, which won a Nobel Prize for drama. The author took on the task of putting it on the big screen. This is a produced talking heads kind of thing, but it’s a good way to get to know the film from the ground up.
  • Scoring Doubt – We DVD folks know this little ditty, it’s all about the music. Why, who, where, what, how did the music happen for the movie? Your questions answered in this brief but informative extra.
  • The Cast Of Doubt – An interview session with Entertainment Tonight’s some dude asking questions of the main cast. It’s revealing, mostly, but guarded in that, “We are big stars and we know how to do an interview so as to seem genuine while still being very Hollywood.” I liked it.
  • The Sisters Of Charity – The real sister who inspired the whole story as a play before it was a movie. She’s joined by others from her church, and the story of how their parish was started many years ago. The best extra on the disc, by far.
  • Feature Commentary With Writer/Director John Patrick Shanley – Shanley is an interesting man, well worth a listen.

The Movie: 9/10
Any story that gives me a chance to think, really think about life gives me that wonderful satisfaction. Doubt isn’t just about a Catholic school, a priest, and a couple of nuns. If that is your impression, it’s time to get it, watch it, and do some thinking of your own.

I’ll get the mechanics done first. The acting is amazing, and what could we expect with such a cast? Streep and Hoffman raise some moments of their characters to greatness, truly. I can’t even describe some of their gestures, their facial expressions, their wholehearted handing over of themselves to these roles. Amy Adams does a fine job of keeping in the pool of talent, and Viola Davis steals the show when she comes on screen as a mother with a perspective on a subject we might not all expect.

The movie is gorgeous. The style is direct, well designed, artistic but very functional. The sets and costumes make a world that drew me in from the instant we see the neighborhood and Catholic school being filled with children on an early morning.

The story, the ideas of clashing generations, judgments we make about each other, closing our minds or opening them to new things, it’s all mixed in there. I am simplifying it, of course, but at the heart of the film is a question mark that can haunt you if you let it. The question, “How do we know anything for certain in life?” I came away with an even deeper belief that our relationships with people are more delicate, more fragile, and so much more dependent on a million leaps of faith we make all the time when it comes to keeping the world moving along day to day. Nothing is certain in this life, we make it so with our convictions, our ideals, and even our doubts to get us through it all. See, this movie digs up a lot of good stuff from the bottom of your brain and shakes it up…a good shake up is a good thing.

Audio & Video: 8/10
Doubt is quite a stylish movie and it’s obvious that the Cinematographer knows a thing or two about his craft. The Blu-Ray edition is brought to us in 1080P Hi Definition using the VC1 codec with an average bitrate of 25mbps. Again, Disney has pulled off a great looking transfer even though the source material is quite challenging. Most of the movie looks quite desaturated and skin tones are pale (I assume because nuns are not subjected to the outdoors much) but when there are splashes of color such as Father Flynn’s robe in the opening scene it looks great. The de-saturation of the picture and the fact that everyone in the movie mostly wears black would usually end up a murky mess on DVD, but on Blu-Ray shadow detail is apparant on clothing in every scene.

Doubt isn’t an action packed movie. It’s a brilliant drama with subtle performances that I enjoyed a lot. The audio is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Uncompressed Audio and sounds great. I didn’t expect much in the way of surround sound but the sermon at the start of the movie sounds really “Alive” you hear the echo of the voices around you as though you are in a real church. Dialog is delivered clearly and upfront in the center speaker where it should be. I couldn’t find any issues with sound or picture when I thought about it. Overall this is a GREAT movie and one any serious drama fan should have in their collection. I am not sure it’s the kind of material Blu-Ray was made to showcase but its good nonetheless.

Value: 7/10
This is an important movie. It’s worth seeing, whether you buy it or rent it. Either way, it’s one of those films, a story, that I recommend however you can get it into your head. The Blu-Ray price is always too high, so I say go for a rental. It’s got a lot of extras that make it tempting to buy on DVD, if you haven’t bought into the whole bull hockey pricing of Blu-Ray:)

Overall Score 9/10