Two things got me to watch The Rite; the fact that it starred Anthony Hopkins and that most of it was set in Rome, and being an Italian I was eager to see how the movie would portray Rome.
Considering the movie is about exorcism, of course it would be set where the Vatican is, of all cities, Rome is definitely the best one to combine the good and evil.
The Rite is about an American seminary, Michael played by Colin O’Donoghue, who works with his father who owns a mortuary. He decides to enter a seminary school and abdicate his vows upon completion, thereby getting him a free college degree. Four years pass and Michael however decides to resign. As if a message sent by God an accident occur and the injured young woman, believing Michael to be a priest after seeing his clerical garb, asks him for absolution. His faith slightly strengthens and Father Superior decides to send him to Italy to take an exorcism course. And there he meets Father Lucas a renowned exorcist.
Plot speaking it is something heard before; the exorcism, some of the lead characters being possessed and so on. It isn’t anything new. We probably get a deeper view on exorcism as we follow Michael with his course, so instead of simply say the word exorcism and seeing the possessed, we actually get to know how priest decide whether the person is possessed or not.
Michael is too handsome and Alice Braga’s journalist Angeline slightly tests his faith. Actually the thrill of a woman to test Michael faith could have been a good add to the story, it would add a different challenge. A good thing is that we see the Michael development and by the end of the film, he is fully developed.
The film wouldn’t be the same without Hopkins; Father Lucas is the strongest and creepiest role Hopkins has played since Hannibal Lecter and his best role ever since. He is able to combine funny moments, like when Hopkins was giving an exorcism to a woman and speaking a prayer in a different language and his phone rang, to when creepy ones when he seriously does exorcism. Also since in Rome, he was pretty fluent in Italian.
One thing though that left me wondering; the bracelet. At the beginning of the movie, we see Michael preparing a dead woman who committed suicide and puts this bracelet that belongs to her on her wrist. The bracelet has an eye charm. Later we see the same bracelet in Rome and it seems to be haunting Michael, but I didn’t quite get why and its meaning.
The location, Rome, was a good choice; if a demon wanted to piss off some priests, what a better place than the Vatican? Apparently, only Catholic priest can practice exorcism, so again Rome nailed it.
I’m still trying to give a meaning to this. The other Italian woman who had it did not committee suicide and when it seems to be haunting Michael, he is not even thinking of dying. If the bracelet is the demon, then it was all decided from the beginning; it decided to haunt Michael right from the start. If anyone has an explanation, I would be glad to hear it.
Anyways, the movie is one of the best under the “exorcism” theme. As the others, it might be forgotten after a couple of years, maybe less. Though I’m pretty sure Hopkins performance won’t be forgotten.