I doubt it
I recently saw that trailer, for the upcoming DOUBT, before seeing HAPPY GO-LUCKY a second time. I whispered to the church friend I brought along, who is a recent convert … “this will either be the awesomest movie ever or the most-evil movie ever.”
After the film, I dashed over to the B&N bookstore across the street to buy the play DOUBT. A floor manager told me they had it, and she was probably amused when she called downstairs to the clerk in the Theater section to say “a man in a Notre Dame sweater is on his way down” for DOUBT. I read it straight through on the subway ride home and almost missed my stop so absorbed was I in the final scenes.
The dialog is more in the Mamet or Labute ping-pong style than the Shakespeare or O’Neill soliloquy style, so it is entirely performance-dependent. Hoffman is a terrific actor, but a relatively naturalistic actor who thrives in Everyman roles, not this sort of work. Meryl can do anything — even not totally suck in MAMMA MIA. But she looks from the trailer like she’s overplaying the “stick up her ass” act. The play has only four characters — the priest, the two nuns and the pupil’s mother — and the trailer makes it clear they’ve done quite a bit of opening up. If you’re gonna make a movie of DOUBT you have no real choice; the play is just too short to stage more or less as written. In the play, the boy Father is suspected of abusing remains offstage and of course we never see the action in the rectory itself — the trailer makes it clear that those two choices Shanley did not repeat for the movie.
As a result I’m pretty confident the movie DOUBT be far less ambiguous and thus less conflicted than the play. And … I will be vague … the ending would be VERY easy to change, and I doubt that one element in the mother’s character (I’ll avoid for spoilage’s sake) will survive for the film. And if one were to change those two things … a really emotionally-baffling work evaporates into Maria Monk or “bitter Hollywood boomers” territory.
So I’m leaning toward … film probably sucks. Though I should add that I know nothing about the film *other* than the trailer, the play and author John Patrick Shanley’s written intro to the play (which I so wish I hadn’t read … kinda removes all the … ahem … doubt).