John Patrick Shanley (2008)

15 Certificate


Our Score
John Patrick Shanley here writes and directs a chilly, austere adaptation of his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Set in a Catholic boys' school in the Bronx in 1964, it's essentially a claustrophobic three-hander in which a priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is suspected of misconduct with the establishment's only black pupil. His chief accuser is the principal, Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep), whose cast-iron religious certainty sets her on a collision course with Hoffman's modernising tendencies. Completing this powerhouse trio is an innocent young nun (played by Amy Adams), whose doubts fuel Streep's crusade. Remaining buttoned-up in both garb and morals, Streep's dragon-like inquisitor dominates proceedings, with her wrath sometimes threatening to turn into pantomime villainy. Hoffman brings necessary warmth to the priest - such that we can never be sure of his guilt - while Adams replays the innocence of her princess in Enchanted, except wrapped in a habit. Shanley's dialogue is honed and articulate, but in only his second outing as a director (after Joe versus the Volcano), he is never quite able to overcome the piece's theatricality - despite over-literal use of gathering storm clouds.


A disciplinarian nun at a Catholic school in 1960s New York suspects a charismatic priest of behaving inappropriately with a student. A battle of wills ensues between the pair as she tries to gather definitive evidence beyond her own moral certainty. Drama based on director John Patrick Shanley's stage play, starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Viola Davis and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Cast & Crew

Sister Aloysius Beauvier Meryl Streep
Father Brendan Flynn Philip Seymour Hoffman
Sister James Amy Adams
Mrs Miller Viola Davis
Sister Veronica Alice Drummond
Sister Raymond Audrie Neenan
Mrs Carson Susan Blommaert
Donald Miller Joseph Foster II
Jimmy Hurley Lloyd Clay Brown
Director John Patrick Shanley
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: DisneyGuidance: Sexual references.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 6 Feb 2009