Michael, the son of a funeral director grows indifferent to his father and joins a Seminary. On his way to the course completion, he is overwhelmed by a strong lack of faith. His religious beliefs are further jolted when he sees a young girl haplessly dying in a road accident for whom he reluctantly performs the ritual to absolve her sins. His mentor still believes in him and urges him to go to Italy to take an exorcism course hoping that he it would strengthen his faith in Christianity. In Italy he attends a session from Father Xavier who soon becomes aware of his skepticism. As a result he sends him to an eminent Jesuit exorcist, Father Lucas, whose ways though questionable are quite effective. He witnesses the exorcism of a sixteen year old girl but still seems unconvinced. Father Lucas explains to him that it takes multiple sessions over a long stretch of time to completely free a victim from the demon. Despite witnessing some supernatural occurrences during the aforesaid exorcism... Written by
From what I could see on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, the critical consensus was not too favorable. Yet Roger Ebert thought it was a decent little film. After seeing it, so did I.
The scenario of this film was tailor-made for Anthony Hopkins. Could you imagine a better excuse for scenery-chewing and over-the-top carrying-on, other than demonic possession? So you can't complain about the overacting: the Devil made him do it. The demonically-possessed cannot be expected to turn in a subtle performance.
Hopkins did a perfectly fine job with the set up. And the rest of the cast was equally suitable for what they had to do.
It was good to see Rutger Hauer again, a totally remarkable and outstanding actor. He had a very limited role (maybe five minutes screen time total), enough to make me wish he worked more in current films. I miss him.
I have not read the book this film is supposedly based on. But I would assume that fidelity to it is not a major point. There was a lot of humanity and recognizable human emotions evident in this film, and I saw no indications that the film was intended to convert unbelievers. And it worked up to some very suspenseful situations. Which is just what a thriller should do.
This was another instance of Roman Catholic exorcism. There were seven "orders" or steps in becoming a priest. In that order, from minor to major: porter, lector, exorcist, acolyte, subdeacon, deacon and priest. This set of orders supposedly was instituted a millennium ago, or more. In more recent times, the "exorcist" order is virtually ceremonial. The actual current exorcists are specially appointed priests. But it makes you wonder: back in the Early Ages, the next step after reading the Bible at church services (being a "lector") was to cast out demons (being an "exorcist"). Was there a special need way back then? Such that the faithful could not wait for an ordained priest to intervene? We've also seen Protestant exorcism recently, in The Last Exorcism. I have no reason to believe that casting out demons is limited in any way to Roman Catholics. I think the next film begging to be made is a Jewish exorcism. Perhaps there is a Muslim equivalent as well.
I am not saying that you have to go out and see "The Rite" rite now in the cinema. I don't regret seeing it there. But when it becomes available in a form that you can enjoy at home, it would definitely be something worth while to watch.
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