An F.B.I. Agent persuades a social worker, who is adept with a new experimental technology, to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer in order to learn where he has hidden his latest kidnap victim.
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>
The DVD release offers several scenes that were edited, reshot, or removed altogether after poor test screenings. Glimpses of several of these scenes can be seen in the movie's original theatrical trailer (also included on the DVD):
An alternate opening where Father Almeida commits suicide by jumping off of the roof of his church. In the final cut, there is no indication as to how he died.
A longer, much more explicit version of Frankie and her boyfriend Steve fooling around during the opening credits.
Before Frankie's first stimagtic attack, she experiences a series of strange occurances while closing her hair salon.
Also, before Frankie's first stigmatic attack, she comes home and is scared by her boyfriend Steve. The two have an argument.
A clever blend of Christian mysticism and 20th Century narcissistic cynicism
STIGMATA: Well, this one is certain to be somewhat controversial with hardcore fundamentalist Christians and the equally dedicated Catholic, but I personally found the movie to be far from irreverent, and actually rather faithful in parts. Though the film balances psychological terror and armchair Christian mythology, the movie manages to present a thought-provoking dramatic episode by clashing the faithful and the faithless, the true spirituality and hypocrisy, the sincere and the mundane.
The film centers on the experiences of a young woman who is a self-professed athiest who manages to somehow be afflicted with The Stigmata, a paranormal experience wherein the "victim" or the "gifted" (dependant upon one's point of view) is afflicted/touched by God and with manifestations of the wounds Christ suffered at His Crucifixion. These include the wounds through the wrists, the feet, the crown of thorns, the scourging of the back and finally the spear through the side.
Into the mix is tossed a mildly agnostic Catholic priest/scientist assigned by Rome to investigate supposed "miracles." Also blended into the story is a sub plot full of political goings on inside the Vatican and the attraction between the priest and the young woman afflicted. So not only does the movie examine The Stigmata, spirituality, Christian myth, and the Catholic tradition, but it explores the inner workings of the Church (to a very critical degree) and the meeting of man, woman and God. It's also entertaining.
The movie seems to be marketed as a modern-day "The Exorcist." I don't think the comparison is fair. Though there does appear to be some sort of possession story happening, it somehow ends up being mostly the desperate actions of a benevolent spirit of a deceased priest trying to get attention and bring the Truth to light. Obviously the more fundamental Christian believer familiar with the Christian mythos would find this plot element suspect, and dramatically it's only mildly fulfilling. For this reason the mature and educated viewer might find the ending of the film anticlimactic and arguably "sell out," but the casual viewer would probably find nothing questionable about the Hollywood ending. Personally, I thought it tainted an otherwise splendidly atmospheric film. The integration of Catholic mysticism with MTV-era music video filmography at times seems nearly as visually attractive as Madonna's "Just Like a Prayer" video, though not quite as sublime.
I'll give the movie 3 stars, mostly solidified by strong dialogue and exceptional performances from both Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne as the woman and the priest. On it's own merits, the film manages to create a foundation from which the viewer is challenged to fill in the blanks re: the spiritual goings-on, but it loses points where it attempts to find cheap thrills and reinvent the spiritual-psychological horror portrayed in The Exorcist by turning an interesting and engaging look at mystic spirituality's interaction with the 20th Century's narcissistic cynicism into something more akin to the later OMEN movies.
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