1 February 2011 | jdesando
"There's not a day in my life that I don't feel like a fraud. Other priests, doctors, lawyers - I talk to them all. I don't know anyone who hasn't felt that." Father Damien Karras, from The Exorcist (1973)
As a Jesuit-trained, fallen–away Catholic, I approach The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins, with reverence. Then I revert to agnosticism because I can't believe this is a serious movie. Not only does it not bring anything new to understanding exorcism or demonic possession, its screenplay is tepid and its special effects hellaciously undercooked. The "argument-from-ignorance" fallacy (that no proof is actually proof, or something like that) is the basis for showing that the devil exists but is never explored enough to make that psycho-philosophical basis of the film interesting.
Young deacon Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) is sent to Father Lucas Trevant (Hopkins) in Rome to gain faith as he is about to abort his theology training for lack of it. Meeting Alice Braga's journalist Angeline (the film is never subtle) could test his faith once more, but he's devoted to getting out of his seminary contract and dissing the devil. Just another opportunity lost since the temptations of a woman could generate far more thrills than the lame, exorcist knock-off routine.
That Kovak is uncommonly handsome and Braga of the Sonia-Braga (Alice is her niece) sensuality is amusing while I recall the less-than-cinematic looking prelates and journalists I have known.
Hopkins, however, is easy to watch as always, here playing a veteran exorcist Jesuit, Father Lucas Trevant. In fact you can see Hannibal Lecter creep out now and then, and with the Rome setting get nostalgic for the Silence of the Lambs sequel failure.
I want to find something good to say because I tumbled the Exorcist steps at Georgetown with dates regularly, but I must cling again to agnosticism because I just don't know what's good about this film.