Thursday, January 27, 2011


Still from The Rite
"What were you expecting, spinning heads and Pea Soup?" Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins) asks. Well actually.... yeah

Mikael Håfström's The Rite is suggested (note, not based upon) by the Book The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio. Its story centers around one American Priest Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) who journeyed to Rome, studying at a school for Exorcism after deciding initially that he wanted to retire his apsirations to remain in the Priesthood. Realizing quickly that his College Scholarship would require a $100k repayment, he decides to take up the opportunity in Rome after some blackmail masked thinly as persuasion from Mentor, Father Matthew (Toby Jones).

Failing to connect in a classroom setting under the tutelage of Father Xavier (Ciaran Hinds), Michael is referred over to study as an Apprentice to a trusted name in the field, Father Lucas (Hopkins). Despite witnessing a series of Exorcisms alongside Father LucasMichael is left unconvinced still, believing that these Possessions are nothing more than Neuroses.

Michael doubts his own faith in God and also refuses to believe in the existence of The Devil, who is responsible for the actions of these evil Spirits taking control of Father Lucas' patients.  An evil Spirit manifests itself through some terrifying revelations to Michael, in all-out fight to destroy both him and Father Lucas. Is Michael capable of ridding of this overpowering supernatural presence or will he succumb to it?

Despite trying its best to speak to a younger audience through its flawed Hero Michael, who like the rest of us has his own insecurities and vices, The Rite falls short. Actor O'Donoghue is disengaged and miscast in a role which should have seen him playing-up his ignorance, fear and vulnerability.  His performance is disengaged especially when paired with the legendary Anthony Hopkins who as always is brilliant and committed.

A story line built around Michael's relationship to his Father (Rutger Hauer) and friend Angeline (Alice Braga), plus the entire theme surrounding his struggle with faith -draw the Film out unnecessarily, failing to amount to anything substantial when ultimately our attentions are focussed on the battle between the Spirit and Michael.

Screenwriters Michael Petroni and Author Baglio give fine Actors like Jones and Hinds little room to work with also and far too often, the Film borders too much on the literal with imagery of creepy Toads, Cats, a red-eyed Mule and the vomiting of nails. Even the Spirit's dialogue seems a tad ridiculous when it finally confronts Michael.

The Rite explores the subject matter of Exorcisms, but does it do so authentically and with the level of complexity in which it should should be treated?  No. Is it entertaining?  Patchily.  The Warner Bros. Film opens wide in theatres tomorrow. Grade: C-

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