No telling

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

With today's arrival of both Frost/Nixon and Doubt come two very different examples of how a stage play can be altered for film.

In Frost/Nixon, director Ron Howard cuts out the staginess, making something like an action film for political wonks.

Guiding his own Pulitzer-winning play Doubt to the screen, writer-director John Patrick Shanley appears uninterested in renovation; words and performances rule and imagery is generally static. Shanley also maintains the full weight of the work's title.

In a Bronx Catholic school during the reform-minded mid-1960s, a conflict of approach develops between Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a popular young priest who believes the church needs less harshness, and Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep), a nun so old-guard she thinks ballpoint pens are "the easy way out."

Their mutual animosity combusts when young Sister James (Amy Adams) tells Aloysius of some suspicious behavior involving Flynn and an altar boy.

Though she has no proof he committed a crime, the elder nun seeks to punish Flynn. Conversely, we get no proof of his innocence, either, leading each viewer toward an individual conclusion.

The result is an intriguing rumination on how opinions and prejudices are formed, brought to life by three actors who can do very little wrong. It's too bad that what goes through viewers' heads probably will be more interesting than what occurs on screen.


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Grade: B-