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John Patrick Shanley adapted his own Pulitzer-winning play for this compelling drama about an archconservative nun (Meryl Streep) and a progressive priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) clashing in a working-class Bronx parish in 1964. Principal of the parish school, the nun suspects the priest of molesting a 12-year-old boy — the school’s first black student. Lacking any evidence and hamstrung by the church’s male-dominated chain of command, she embarks on a vendetta that leads her to the edge of a moral abyss. Shanley skillfully opens up the play’s action on-screen while preserving its ambiguity about the characters’ motives. Streep and Hoffman are pitch-perfect, and Amy Adams is also superb as a young nun caught up in the conflict. Rated R.

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