“The Rite” Movie Review

1/30/2011 Posted by Admin

“The Rite”

Movie Review

Directed by Mikael Håfström, Written Michael Petroni and Matt Baglio, 112-minutes, Rated PG-13.

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz


View Christopher Smith's preview of the movie here:

2010’s “The Last Exorcism” turned the world of demonic expulsion into a magic show, portraying the practice as a fraud, a grift, or most generously, a faith exercise for the truly disturbed.

2011’s “The Rite” takes a similar approach, except with utter sincerity. The film drags on, moving from one repetitive scene to the next, completely unaware of how boring and redundant it is. Characters wander through the motions and search for lost faith in a story they clearly have none in.

“The Rite’s” exhausting 112 minutes begins with young mortician Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue), who decides to turn his back on the funeral home and join the seminary. Four years later, Michael, about to take his last rites before joining the priesthood, has a lapse in faith. So, in order to add to the dwindling number of priests in America, Father Matthew (Toby Jones) sends him to a seminary in Rome to become an exorcist.

Makes sense to me.

Michael in Rome is a harrowing experience. First, he goes to class, where he tries to convince his teachers that God doesn’t exist. Then, he meets an old exorcist named Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins) and tries to convince him that God doesn’t exist. This goes on throughout the second and third act, until Michael must preform an exorcism and prove to himself that God does exist.

The classic debate is finally settled.

Michael’s stubbornness slows “The Rite” to a blinding halt. He is unwilling to go along with anything, and while his conviction builds character, it also makes him entirely unlikable. Horror movies regarding belief must show a gradual change of heart, but O'Donoghue just comes off as arrogant before he faces the most unlikely tests of faith.

Opposite him is Anthony Hopkins, who takes his role with the utmost pleasure. He has a ball playing the eccentric priest and onscreen, he’s mostly captivating. This isn’t enough to overcome the dullness of the story, however. Nevertheless, Hopkins tries, but more often than not, his decent performance makes the cast’s bland line readings look worse.

“The Rite” aims for authenticity but is nothing more than a cartoon. The film is rife with poorly executed genre clichés and bad acting, alienating the viewer from the picture--and putting them into a coma.

Grade: D

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