‘The Rite’ – 2 hail marys
by Jennice Fuentes
A home that doubles as a funeral home. A young man with intelligent eyes cleaning a young girl’s dead body . The body has tattoo of the devil. The heat turns up a bit when you realize that the young man’s father is played by the deliciously creepy looking Rutger Hauer. And the implaccable and always fascinating Anthony Hopkins plays a funky priest. I was so very hopeful that this would be this generation’s ‘The Exorcist’…equally scary but yet original…
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And to think that the story was not only promising but also interesting. At least, until it wasn’t anymore. You see, the young man we see at the beginning Michael Kovak (the Irish stage hottie Colin O’Donoghue) is torn. The choices his grim looking father gives him seem very limited. Become a mortician or go into the seminary. Unlike any young person today, he decides to abide by these limiting rules of engagement (apparently he never heard of school loans or did not feel like becoming financially independent from daddy) and chooses the seminar. Dude, really?
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Since time flies even when you are not having fun, the four years go by in one minute and he is now sure that he cannot do this job…its high time to renounce the faith, but not before Father Matthew (an entertaining Toby Jones) decides to blackmail doe-eyed Michael by reminding him that its never too late to charge him for the tuition he would owe (a swanky 100K! Who knew only a few could afford the seminary!) if he really does not take his vows… Convinced that a little touch of devil may just be the right ingredient to keep this kid in the family, Father Matthew decides to send him to Rome to attend Exorcism School.
And while in Rome, who better to turn this skeptic into a believer than the unconventional Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) who is the most experienced and original and irreverent of any exorcist I have ever seen… and as Father Lucas sternly tells Michael, to fight the devil you must first believe he exists…
And unlike what you may have come to believe thanks to Bill Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist’, there need not be any swiveling heads or green soup when you are possessed. Remember than less is more these days. And I only wished they had kept it that way…simply scary instead of simply too complicated. While the first such encounter with a pregnant Roman teenager (Marta Gastini) is very promising of what could have been …the devil was eaten up by the details. Too much drama. Too many toads, too many cats, and too many takes of Hopkins FXed eyes …and fat ankles and let’s not forget the demonic mule (il MULO!)
Shot on location in Rome and Hungary, the Rite is certainly beautiful to look at. The casting is also top-notch with very watchable actors, all of whom seem to be having a good time, especially when they are chewing the scenery. But ‘The Rite’ is guilty of single cardinal sin: letting its originality run away with the devil. Before long the movie becomes a tedious rundown of visions, possessions and then more visions and more possessions. And after, we pretty much understand why Michael is having a hard tim
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