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A priest from the Vatican is sent to Sao Paulo, Brazil to investigate the appearance of the face of the Virgin Mary on the side of a building. While there he hears of a statue of the Virgin Mary bleeding tears in a small town outside of the city. Meanwhile, a young woman in the U.S. begins to show signs of stigmata, the wounds of Christ. The priest from the Vatican links up with her and cares for her as she is increasingly afflicted by the stigmata. Her ranting and raving finally begins to make sense to the priest who starts to question what his religion has stood for for the last 1900 years. Written by
Jeff Mellinger <email@example.com>
Patricia Arquette's character is named Frankie (short for Frances), similar to the name of the saint, Francis, whom we're told by Gabriel Byrne's character was the first to receive the stigmata. See more »
In the scenes in Brazil, people are speaking Spanish and Portuguese with Portuguese accents, not Brazilian accent. It would be like an American countryside movie with English actors playing the roles with cockney accent. See more »
The "stigmata" is a Christian religious term that refers to the spontaneous appearance of wounds corresponding to the wounds on the Christ's body when he was crucified. This religious experience is most typically associated with deeply religious people and, I believe, is not one that is widely taken seriously. What makes this movie interesting is that it portrays the appearance of these wounds as a terrifying, extremely painful and ultimately humiliating experience. There's nothing conventionally religious in the experience portrayed here -- in fact, the victim is an athiest.
But, having bypassed the conventional, the movie is only partially successful in bringing the experience of the stigmata to the screen. The movie is a victim itself of a conventional portrayal of the evil bureaucratic Vatican desk jockeys suppressing "true" religion. And I have to admit that, as I was watching it, I found myself thinking, "Hmm, that sounds like the Gospel of Thomas," -- a famous Gnostic Gospel. Surprise.
But, overall, I'd recommend it as a decent movie and a departure from the generic, bland portrayal of Christian religious experience a la the Hallmark channel or "Touched by an Angel." It is a movie that can make you think about the nature of religious experience and its impact on an ordinary life.
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