Thanks to the readers who sent me the earlier links to Todd McCarthy’s mixed review of Doubt. McCarthy appears to be punishing Meryl Streep for doing the role differently than Cherry Jones on Broadway, though overall he admires the work:
The considerable integrity and strength of John Patrick Shanley‚Äôs play prevail despite a questionable central performance in ‚ÄúDoubt.‚Äù Stepping back behind the camera for the first time since his misguided ‚ÄúJoe Versus the Volcano‚Äù in 1990, Shanley capably retains the power of his study of unsubstantiated moral convictions gone tragically awry, and the extensive opening up of his four-character, 90-minute 2005 Pulitzer and Tony Award winner adds in social context what it loses in sharply focused intensity. Miramax has plenty here to build this intelligent, absorbing drama into a strong B.O. performer with a discerning public looking for movies that are actually about something.
And so those words hang in the air, “despite a questionable central performance.” This is going to turn out to be a case where those who saw the stage play will be resistant to any different interpretation of the main characters, which probably explains why McCarthy had unease with Streep. His point is taken but Streep has never let me down before, even in bad films, so I’ll take this with a grain of salt.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt had some unexplained reservations but like Variety, he was similarly blown away:
However one reacts to this reversal of expectations, “Doubt” sets off dramatic fireworks thanks to a cast of antagonists that includes Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. The Miramax Films release should find receptive adult audiences after it opens December 12, and could get an added boost when award-season honors trickle in. Nevertheless, the film will have its doubters.