Film Review “The Rite”

Starring:  Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue and Ciaran Hinds
Directed by:  Mikael Hafstrom
Rated:  R
Running time:  2 hours 7 minutes
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

You can say a lot of things about the Devil.  But one saying that Hollywood likes to hear when old Beelzebub is mentioned is “big box office.”  And with that thought in mind Warner Brothers, the studio that gave us “The Exorcist” now introduces movie goers to “The Rite.”

Michael (O’Donoghue) is a young man looking for a career.  When we meet him he is tending a body at his family’s funeral parlor.  We see him close the dead woman’s eyes.  Gently wash her hair.  Neatly arrange the charm bracelet on her arm.  He is soon joined by his father (Rutger Hauer).  Times like this remind Michael of when he was a young boy and joined his father in tending to the body of his mother.  In passing Michael tells a friend that everyone in his family has either been a mortician or a priest.  Not wanting to spend the rest of his life among lifeless bodies he decides to enter the seminary.  Besides, he figures, if he doesn’t want to be a priest after he gets his four year degree he can always leave.  Right?

Packed with a few good old fashioned jolts, “The Rite” is an atmospheric film that is kept on track by the performance of Anthony Hopkins.  For some reason a lot of filmgoers seem to think that Anthony Hopkins just showed up one day and played Hannibal Lecter.  Not true.  From his role as Richard in “The Lion In Winter” (a role I also played on stage but you don’t want to hear about that…do you?) to Corky the ventriloquist in “Magic” to Dr. Treaves in “The Elephant Man” and beyond, Hopkins has always given solid and well thought out performances.  As a priest who is assigned by the Vatican to perform exorcisms there is nothing Father Trevant won’t do to save a soul and Hopkins perfectly portrays him that way.  O’Donoghue also does well as the young student sent to learn from the master even though he attributes possession to mental instability more then Lucifer.  Hinds is also strong as the man in the Vatican who assigns Michael to Father Trevant.  And on a side note, depending on the camera angle Hinds bears a striking resemblance to both Albert Finney and R. Lee Ermey!

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