Director: John Patrick Shanley Language: English Runtime: 104 minutes Links: IMDB Streep plays a downright menacing nun in ‘Doubt’ She almost looks like the evil Emperor in “Star Wars” with her pale, white face hiding underneath a black bonnet. Her cold, booming voice can make a school yard full of children stop on a dime and instantly shudder in fear. She detests barrettes in hair, ball-point pens, sugar in tea and including “Frosty the Snowman” in a Christmas recital. Just the mere mention of a strict Catholic nun is enough to evoke fear in the hearts of many, and Meryl Streep is sure to bring back some of those bad memories with her tour de force performance as the creepy Sister Aloysius in “Doubt,” which is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play from John Patrick Shanley. Set at a Catholic grade school and church in the Bronx in 1964, “Doubt” takes place shortly after Pope John Paul established a series of significant reforms that were designed to make the church more modern and diverse. Sister Aloysius, who is known as “The Dragon” by some of her peers and runs her school with an iron fist, is completely against this transformation, but Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) feels the exact opposite and wants to make the church more friendly and viable to its changing members. It's no secret the two don't exactly see eye to eye, and a cloud of controversy starts to hang over the church when Father Flynn begins to take a particular interest in Donald Muller (Joseph Foster II), the school's first and only African-American student. And that cloud gets further exacerbated when Sister James (Amy Adams), an idealist young teacher, notices Donald is acting rather peculiar following a private meeting in the rectory with Father Flynn and shares her vague worries with Sister Aloysius. Although she doesn't have a single shred of proof that Father Flynn acted inappropriately with Donald, Sister Aloysius is convinced the priest is guilty of an unspeakable crime and vows to remove him from her church, no matter how many rules she has to break. Much of the film's drama and action relies solely on dialogue and the confrontations between Father Flynn, Sister Aloysius and Sister James, and there's no way “Doubt” would have the same kind of impact if it did not include such gifted actors as Streep, Hoffman and Adams. There's no question in my mind that if these roles were in the hands of less talented actors, “Doubt” could have turned out so lifeless it would have the potential of making people suffering from insomnia fall asleep. But fortunately that is not the case, and Streep and Hoffman radiate such raw emotion that their performances could be rewarded in the coming weeks with Oscar nominations. The fact that I am lauding Streep and Hoffman for their work doesn't surprise me at all, but what I wasn't expecting was such a strong performance from Adams, who more than holds her own with these two acting titans. I must admit up until now I had only seen Adams play fairly silly characters in “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and “Enchanted,” but in “Doubt” she shows she has enough versatility to adequately perform in any kind movie. And Viola Davis, who plays Donald's mother, is basically only in one scene, but it's a powerful and pivotal one that will make you rethink your views on the entire situation surrounding the film. But with a title like “Doubt,” you should hopefully be well aware the movie is brimming with uncertainty. Shanley, who wrote and directed the film version of his play, goes to the metaphor well too many times, but you have to give him credit for making a majority of the scenes substantially ambiguous. I'm sure some people will be upset because they might not get the concrete answers they were hoping for when the film reaches its conclusion, but at least it will give everyone plenty of stuff to talk about on the car ride home. Rating: 7 out of 10