The Rite opens with a surprisingly squicky scene of a body being prepped for burial. Fear not, though, for that is the most shudder-inducing thing to happen in the entire film, barring only the threat of Anthony Hopkins naked.
The film is “suggested by” a book, which is my new favorite credit. I think all films should tell us what suggested them, if only so we can have an explanation. Some are surely good (suggested by a true story, suggested by a lack of films surrounding a certain population), others not so much (suggested by the public’s desire to see things blow up regardless of character motivation, suggested by [actor]’s desire to work close to home).
Anyway. This was suggested by a book of the same title, where a journalist followed a priest through exorcism training. The book might actually be interesting, but the movie was not.
The Rite is, basically, a recruitment video for the Catholic church. In it, our young atheist hero (Colin O’Donoghue as Michael) hitches his wagon to the star that is seminary school, so as to get a free ride out of this here town. It’s either that, or taking over the business at his family’s funeral home, and having been like, totally grossed out by the opening scene, I applaud his decision.
He makes the most of his four years of free education, and on the eve of graduation pens an “it’s not you, it’s me” letter to the priesthood. But God has other plans, as well as a bill for $100K if he doesn’t don that collar, and so off we go to Rome to Acquire Some Faith while laying the smackdown on the devil.
(By the way, Toby Jones is pretty much wasted as the Church’s heavy in the undergrad scenes, and Ciarán Hinds is wasted as the professor in Rome. Anthony Hopkins is not wasted, as he is obviously having a blast in the role of Rome’s go-to exorcism guy, Father Lucas.)
Once in Rome, Michael meets up with Father Lucas, offers a few test volleys of “Hey, maybe what these people really need is a shrink”, but spends most of his time hanging out watching Crazy Shit Happen in Italian. Which can be fine, if one can act, but Colin O’Donoghue cannot, and so watching him watch stuff pretty much put me to sleep.
Here are three things that would have made it more interesting:
- If the frog Father Lucas allegedly pulls from a young boy’s Pillow of Doom had indicated either the beginning of a series of plagues, or the presence of Lois & Clark esque clones.
- If Angeline, the journalist Michael encounters at Exorcism High, had carried through with her anvilicious name and been an actual guardian angel.
- If it had been a completely different movie.
Here are three reasons why people might want to watch it, which I suppose are valid:
- If you watch all exorcism movies ever.
- If you love Anthony Hopkins (and fear not — even though it looks inevitable, his robe never does fly open, to our great relief).
- If you have a free ticket. (Hey, that’s me!)