Doubt appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The film came with a decent but unexceptional transfer.
Sharpness was generally fine. Some light edge enhancement created a little softness at times, as the haloes in wide shots made things a bit murky. Most of the time the movie offered good delineation, however. I noticed no jaggies or shimmering, and source flaws remained absent.
Colors tended to look acceptable. The movie featured a low-key “period” palette, within which the hues appeared reasonably concise. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows were a little thick. Low-light shots showed acceptable delineation but could seem slightly dense. Overall, this was a “B-“ presentation.
To my surprise, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Doubt packed a little more punch than expected. Most of the movie focused on general ambience. The front and rears speakers added a decent sense of place, and a few louder elements like thunder and other storms occasionally added a little zest to the proceedings. Music also boasted nice stereo delineation. The film’s scope remained limited, so we didn’t get much to make the mix stand out from the crowd, but I heard more activity than I anticipated from a character drama of this sort.
Audio quality appeared fine. Speech showed good delineation and clarity, as the lines remained natural. Effects offered acceptable accuracy and life, and they appeared pretty powerful in the smattering of louder scenes. Music worked well, as the score seemed rich and full. Nothing here turned this into a great mix, but it deserved a “B”.
When he head to the disc’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director John Patrick Shanley. He provides a running, screen-specific look at story and character issues, Shanley’s childhood experiences and their influence on the film, cast and performances, sets and locations, camerawork and visual choices, and a few other production topics.
Shanley creates a thoroughly engaging discussion here. At the start, I worried he’d reminisce about his childhood to the exclusion of all else; those elements prove illuminating, but I hoped for a balance between that side of things and actual filmmaking subjects.
Happily, as the track progresses, Shanley grows more expansive when it comes to the flick’s creation. He gives us a lot of good tales about the movie; I especially like his reflections about working with the actors, as he throws out quite a few intriguing notes in that realm. Shanley creates a likable and informative chat that covers Doubt well.
Four featurettes follow. From Stage to Screen goes for 19 minutes, eight seconds and includes comments from Shanley, technical consultant Sister “James” Margaret McEntee, production designer David Gropman, and actors Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, and Amy Adams. We learn about the play’s origins and inspirations, the source material and its adaptation into a screenplay, shooting in New York, cast and performances.
Based on the featurette’s title, I expected more about the script and story here. We learn a little about those, but both subjects are covered much better in Shanley’s commentary. “Stage” offers a smattering of new details, but it mostly throws out happy talk about the production. It’s watchable but not especially informative.
During the 13-minute and 52-second The Cast of Doubt, we get a panel discussion conducted by Entertainment Weekly’s Dave Karger. He sits with Davis, Adams, Streep and Hoffman. They discuss thoughts about the original play, the characters and their performances, and interpretations of the story’s events. I like the context of the piece, as it’s cool to see all four of the actors chat together. Inevitably, there’s a fair amount of the standard general positivity, but the program digs pretty deeply at times, and the participants provide quite a few interesting notes.
Scoring Doubt fills four minutes, 39 seconds with notes from Shanley and composer Howard Shore. As expected, this show looks at the movie’s music. It’s too short to provide much depth, but it offers a few decent insights into the score.
Finally, The Sisters of Charity lasts six minutes, 29 seconds and features Shanley, Streep, McEntee, and nuns Sister Irene Fugazi, Sister Mary McCormick and Sister Rita King. We learn a bit about the nuns’ lives, and that gives us a nice perspective on their presentation in the movie.
A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for The Proposal, Blu-Ray Disc and Miramax Films. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area. No trailer for Doubt shows up here.
Doubt makes a successful move from the stage to the big screen. The movie suffers from a few flaws, but it packs a good punch and keeps us involved. The DVD provides acceptable to good picture and audio as well as collection of extras highlighted by a terrific audio commentary. The flick definitely earns my recommendation.