Movie: The Rite

Let me say up front that I watched this on a little video gizmo on a cross-country flight – not the best way to see a movie.

Six years ago, Tripp Vinson and Beau Flynn produced a film called The Exorcism of Emily Rose which was top-notch.  Marketed as a horror film, the picture had a big opening weekend – and then business dropped off as viewers, especially teenagers, realized that it wasn’t a horror film at all but an intelligent and heartfelt courtroom drama that explored questions of faith and reason…  with a few scares thrown in.

Clearly, Vinson and Flynn meant to return to the well with The Rite and, while it doesn’t ultimately work, it does share a few very positive qualities with Emily Rose:  intelligence, seriousness and a wonderful cast.  Anthony Hopkins, who really is an acting genius, plays an exorcist and the very talented  Colin O’Donoghue plays the skeptical young priest who comes to watch and learn.  Rutger Hauer also turns in a good cameo as O’Donoghue’s grim Dad and Alice Braga is dynamite looking and very believable as a journalist.

The fine performances, smart dialogue and unflinchingly serious approach to the question of possession kept me watching the picture.   Also, like Emily Rose, the film is “suggested by” true events, which is kind of interesting in and of itself.

Unfortunately, when it was over, I felt it didn’t really reach anyplace fresh and the ending seemed pretty much a foregone conclusion.  Made me want to watch Emily Rose again though.  And I’m glad someone out there is using genre storytelling to explore interesting issues in an intelligent way.

Better than the critics said it was, watchable and occasionally spooky, but not great.

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  • http://twitter.com/LibertarianArts LibertarianArts

    What little video gizmo did you use? Should I avoid watching this one on my phone? :)

  • http://twitter.com/LibertarianArts LibertarianArts

    What little video gizmo did you use? Should I avoid watching this one on my phone? :)

  • http://twitter.com/LibertarianArts LibertarianArts

    What little video gizmo did you use? Should I avoid watching this one on my phone? :)

  • http://twitter.com/chukmaty Nathaniel Matychuk

    I watched the Exorcism of Emily Rose with my atheist pal.  My impression was mostly negative.  It was what I expected the Rite to be (which I did not watch, fearing disappointment).  It was sympathetic with faith, but the plot was dreadful.  Introducing ideas suddenly and with the point of the picture being presented obviously in predictable point by point progression.  The special effects did not help.

    It struck me as a well meaning attempt and I am usually grabbed by spiritually themed movies, but in the end it was a lame attempt to convince through miracles.   Worse in fact, second hand accounts of miracles.  Trying to prove the supernatural and struggling with doubt that can only be pushed aside by grand spiritual combat playing itself in the physical world is a losing proposition.