I watched The Rite a few mornings ago. It’s an exorcism movie.
I wasn’t going to watch it, I really wasn’t, but I got suckered in. I figured it might be appropriately spooky and, since it was set in Rome, the scenery would have that gorgeous old Italian feel. One out of two ain’t bad I guess.
The scenery was just perfect. Blue skies, crumbly buildings and dark cobblestone alleyways. This is the kind of stuff that creates atmosphere. I won’t take that away from this film. Rome almost makes the movie on its own.
The spookiness didn’t materialize. That isn’t necessarily bad. A movie like this seems to have been created as much to foster thought as it was to make a person jump out of their theater seat.
The problems started for me even before I turned the film on. I looked it up because I couldn’t recall anything about it. The movie poster looked like it was advertising a new Hannibal Lecter movie. I can’t stand that guy. I know people adore him and find him terribly horrifying. I just don’t. He makes me laugh hysterically. The idea of a man so horrendous that you fear speaking to him through 6-inch bullet-proof glass is just laughable. I’m sure Anthony Hopkins is a fine actor, but I only see the laughable (to me, TO ME, I KNOW YOU LOVE HIM) Lecter character and I can’t find the golden nugget that you people assure me is there. This character was so eerily similar that it caused an abnormal amount of eye-rolling from me. I think I sprained a cornea. At some point, you can’t continue to go back to that well.
When I got to the actual watching of the film, I noticed a very choppy edit at about the fourteen minute mark. It was disconcerting and set a bad tone for the rest of the movie.
It wasn’t all bad. It moved along decently. I have always liked Alice Braga. It’s the voice. I’m such a sucker. The male lead did a decent job as a skeptic priest sent to Rome to learn the dark arts (sorry, the rites) of exorcism. As decent as the story would allow. The actress playing the poor, possessed Italian girl (Marta Gastini) did phenomenal physical acting work. There was also Rutger Hauer, who didn’t do much, but he’s still Rutger Hauer and he gets a career pass for being The Hitcher.
The movie did cause me to have lengthy theological arguments with myself. High-brow stuff about faith, corruption and politics. I think I put myself to sleep for a few minutes pondering belief systems and how that fit into the movie and how none of it made much sense even in the film’s world.
It’s probably possible to enjoy the film if you put the brain on cruise and munch some popped corn without giving any of it too much consideration. The problem is that the film clearly wants you to think deep thoughts and clearly thinks it provides a road map for deep answers.
A few other notes:
- The snow was ridiculously fake. Shamefully fake.
- The best and most honest moment of the film has our hero open the door to his room and, confronted with a room full of frogs, he says, “You gotta be fucking kidding me.” It was almost too honest for such a message-heavy film.
- Early on, Hopkins’ character mentions that “Rome is infested with cats.” I muttered to myself, “so is Chicago, so f’n what.” At the end of the film, they indicate that the main character now works his magic in Chicago (the film was inspired by true events, don’t you know). I guess I should be more worried. The cat that kept trying to get in the front door last week?….very suspicious.